The University of South Florida has announced the closure of a branch of the Confucius Institute, a non-profit public educational organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education of China, amid growing concerns over the Chinese influence on campuses across the U.S.
According to a Tampa Bay Times report, the institute was closed on Monday, December 31 due to decreasing enrollment, as only 65 students opted to study different Chinese course this fall.
“We are always going to do what’s in the best interest of the University of South Florida, our students and the communities we serve,” university provost Ralph Wilcox told Times.
The institutes have been at the center stage of criticism by many, alleging them of posing a serious threat to country’s national security, and the university officials in this case also confirmed this as one of the reasons for the shut down.
In March, three Republican lawmakers introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act requiring the institute to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Last year, the University of North Florida also closed down the branch of the institute following a review by its Academic Affairs and Student Affairs office found its mission and goals were not aligned with that of the university.
“After reviewing the classes, activities, and events sponsored over the past four years and comparing them with the mission and goals of the University, it was determined that they weren’t aligned,” the university said.
Earlier, the University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago have also cut ties with the Confucius Institute.
The Confucius Institute has a worldwide presence with a primary motive to promote Chinese language and culture in the rest of the world.