Hungary's government has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China's Fudan University, clearing the way for preparations to establish a campus in Budapest, the Innovation and Technology Ministry said on April 27.
The agreement was signed at an online event by Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics and Fudan University President Xu Ningsheng.
The document outlines goals, educational directives and the location of the Fudan Hungary University campus, the ministry said. The sides reaffirmed that the development of the campus would dovetail with the student quarter programme and would not contravene those plans, it added.
"Fudan Hungary University offers a unique opportunity for Hungarian, Chinese and students of other nationalities to get diplomas, finish specializations and deepen their knowledge. The institution aims to encourage joint research and education projects with Hungarian and European universities," the ministry said.
Fudan Hungary University is expected to launch with a teaching staff of 500 and 6,000-8,000 students, offering programmes in economics, social sciences, the natural sciences, engineering and medical studies.
In February, Hungary's and China's ministries in charge of higher education signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperating to establish Fudan University's campus in Budapest. In the MoU, the ministries agreed to support the establishment of a "world-class, research-oriented university active in many areas of education" in Budapest.
More than 30,000 students are enrolled at Shanghai-based Fudan University, which is placed 34th in the latest annual QS World University Ranking.
Fudan’s arrival to Hungary has sparked heated political debates. It comes after the Fidesz government forced the private CEU University to move its English language classes to Vienna because of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's vendetta against its founder, the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.
The construction of Budapest campus will be excluded from EU procurement rules. According to government documents, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the largest construction company in the world by revenue, will be in charge of the HUF500bn (€1.4bn) project, which is more than what Hungary spends on higher education in a year.
The opposition fears that the construction of Fudan, covering 520,000 sqm, would impede plans to build the Student City, a new zone in the south of Budapest offering accommodation for 8,000-10,000 students.
The Southern City Gate project in Budapest will include plans both to build a student accommodation quarter and a campus for China’s Fudan University, Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics said at a ceremony awarding bidders in an international tender for designs for the area. Palkovics confirmed that Fudan campus would not take space from Student City.