Cue the alarm bells: George Soros, the boogeyman of the political Right, announced that he created a $1 billion global higher education network to “transform” higher education. Soros is a well-known Hungarian-American philanthropist and progressive ideologue, whom conservatives blame for funding progressive advocacy groups and policy proposals in the United States.
The press release said that its new network, called the Open Society University Network (OSUN), would be the “new model of global higher education.” The announcement was made by Soros’s foundation, the Open Society Foundation. The press release read as a mix of progressive propaganda and a sort of alphabet soup, full of progressive terms and phrases such as “knowledge creation,” “underserved communities,” and “integrate learning.” The new network aimed to combine teaching and research in higher education institutions (i.e. colleges and universities) on a global scale.
The plan is to offer both in-person and online programs and focus on refugees, incarcerated people, Roma (known colloquially as “gypsies”), and other groups of people who have been displaced. As expected, the Open Society University Network will partner with at least one other Soros affiliate, the Soros-founded Central European University. Other non-Soros partners are Bard College, Arizona State University, American University of Central Asia (located in Kyrgyzstan) and BRAC University in Bangladesh.
Bard College’s president, Leon Botstein, the OSUN chancellor of record said, “OSUN is the most transformative initiative in higher education I have witnessed in my career. It promises robust and diverse partnerships, and innovation extending critical inquiry, research, and scholarship on an international scale. I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Soros and the Open Society Foundations for their vision and confidence.”
The press release also said that it will start a “massive ‘scholars at risk’ program” at OSUN to shelter “a large number of academically excellent but politically endangered scholars.” It noted that Soros has donated over $32 billion “over the past 30 years to education and social justice causes.”
Soros was quoted in the release and said, “I believe our best hope lies in access to an education that reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing academic freedom. I consider the Open Society University Network to be the most important and enduring project of my life and I should like to see it implemented while I am still around.” For the record, Soros is 89- years- old.
Soros’s announcement is a reiteration of how progressivism has permeated philanthropy, but also is firmly entrenched in higher education. It appears that Soros’s $1 billion higher education network will further strengthen existing progressive ideology in higher education, despite the libertarian Charles Koch’s attempts to start free-market think tanks at universities across the United States. As much as Charles Koch is maligned by activists and the press, Soros has most likely spent more on ideological indoctrination than Koch has.