European and American universities welcomed student refugees in 1956, nurturing a generation of intellectuals

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Fifty years ago, with a rare mix of altruism, guilt, and admiration, colleges and universities throughout the Western world opened their doors to thousands of student refugees from the failed Hungarian revolution. Most of the students arrived with few belongings — let alone transcripts or other records — and those who ended up in English-speaking countries often needed intensive English instruction before beginning classes.

The warm reception from Western higher education that greeted these student 56ers, as they are often called, was a remarkable response to an equally remarkable student-initiated anti-Soviet revolution that took place over thirteen days in the autumn of 1956.

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