The University of New Hampshire and the University of Southern Maine have ended their partnerships with the Confucius Institute, a controversial educational group funded by the Chinese government.
UNH Feels ‘Rising Pressure’ From Washington
University of New Hampshire (UNH) spokesperson Erika Mantz explained to NHPR that the administration chose to close the program “due to amplified concerns in Washington about security and influence.” The university’s partnership with the Institute will end on July 30.
“The federal government has made it increasingly difficult for us to operate the Institute, including the real possibility of losing significant federal research funding if we do not close the institute,” Mantz stated.
UNH has partnered with the Institute since 2010 and renewed a five-year contract in 2019.
USM Cites Sustainability Problems for Closure
According to the Director of Public Affairs at the University of Southern Maine (USM) Marc Glass, the Confucius Institutes had “too few students to be sustainable.” The program will end by June 10.
“While our relationship with Confucius Institute enhanced our language curriculum, we found that it reached too few students to be sustainable,” Glass said in a statement.
However, the university has clarified that it remains dedicated to “person-to-person exchanges, enhancing global understanding, and promoting cross-cultural learning”
Mounting Tension in Academia
Last fall, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged universities to be wary of China’s assistance and students, as he believed that Beijing was intent on stealing American innovation.
“The People’s Republic of China has taken advantage of America’s openness to undertake large-scale and well-funded propaganda efforts and influence operations in this country,” Pompeo said in a statement at the time.
Since 2019, multiple universities have terminated partnerships with the Confucius Institute. This includes Arizona State University, Indiana University, the University of South Florida, the University of Michigan, and the University of North Florida. The College Board, a nonprofit that administers the SAT and AP tests, also cut ties with the organization.