NAICU Washington Update

Administration Cautions College Leaders about Confucius Institutes

October 16, 2020

As further indication of the Trump Administration’s concern about foreign influence on college campuses, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a joint letter to all college presidents and higher education association leaders stressing the severity of possible security threats related to Confucius Institutes. This follows up on an earlier letter Secretary Pompeo sent college and university boards of trustees in August.  
For both agencies, this letter is another in a series of actions aimed at ensuring colleges are aware of the federal government’s concern with influence from the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party on academic freedom, treatment of students (both Americans in China, and Chinese in the U. S.), and the security of research being performed on American campuses.  Recently, the Department of Education heightened oversight of foreign gifts to colleges by expanding reporting under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, while the Department of State declared the Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington, DC, a foreign mission of China.
While the joint letter from Secretaries DeVos and Pompeo does not tell colleges and universities to sever relationships with China or Confucius Institutes, it encourages college leaders to review teaching materials and Chinese language instructors provided by Confucius Institutes, and any institutional relationship with China to ensure “student physical safety, academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and appropriate governance and transparency are upheld.”

MORE News from NAICU