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College Board to Sever Ties With Chinese Institute After Senators’ Letter

The College Board, a non-profit that administers the SAT and AP tests, has announced it is ending ties with the Chinese government-affiliated Confucius Institute Headquarters, informally known as Hanban.

College Board senior vice president Elissa Kim revealed the decision in a letter to seven Republican senators on October 30.

On Tuesday, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) made the letter public on Twitter, which stated that the College Board was awarded an annual grant by Hanban from 2006 to 2020 to support the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture in US schools.

It further revealed that “2020 is the final year in which the College Board will receive or pursue any grant funding from Hanban.”

GOP Senators Question Ties With Hanban

This communication came in response to an October 26 letter jointly written by seven senators, including Blackburn, asking College Board CEO David Coleman to explain the group’s financial relationship with Hanban.

Citing a report issued by the National Association of Scholars, it asserted that the College Board is a “target” of the “Chinese influence campaign,” and accused it of collaborating with Hanban to “help place Chinese nationals in US schools through the Chinese Guest Teacher Program.”

It also accused the College Board of partnering with the Confucius Institute US Center (CIUS) to develop the AP Chinese Language and Placement Exam.

In her response to the letter, College Board vice president Kim clarified that “China has no influence on the College Board’s administration of the Hanban grant or any other component of our work.”

She added that in the Chinese Guest Teacher program participating districts have final review over the teachers and complete autonomy over how the program will be implemented in their schools.

The US State Department on August 13 designated the CIUS as a “foreign mission of the People’s Republic of China.” Although the designation doesn’t require CIUS to shut down its US mission or US institutes to close individual Confucius institutes, it does require more transparency.