Florida university cuts ties with Confucius Institute

The University of North Florida is cutting ties with the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute after determining that the partnership did not align with the school’s “mission and goals.”

The UNF statement was published as a newsletter to faculty and staff last week, informing them that after “careful consideration,” the school plans to terminate the relationship by February 2019, just enough time to fulfill its legal obligation to provide six-months’ notice.

UNF began hosting the Confucius program in 2014 “with the goal of providing Chinese language and culture programs, language proficiency testing, and mutual understanding and awareness of culture between China and the United States,” the statement explains, adding that 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.”

[RELATED: Lawmakers push bill to limit Chinese influence in higher ed]

Confucius Institutes, which are funded and managed by the Chinese Communist Party, are programs hosted by American colleges that purport to aid in cultural and linguistic education. However, many believe these institutes are merely a way for China to misinform American students about Chinese history and society by pushing the Communist Party line.

According to a list produced by the National Association of Scholars, there are currently more than 100 Confucius Institutes in America, although that number appears to be dwindling with the help of legislators like Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Cruz pushed to include a key amendment in The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 that restricts government funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes. 

The bill, which was signed by President Trump last week, also mandates universities provide an annual report disclosing any agreements or contracts they have with the similar foreign programs.

[RELATED: Trump signs Confucius Institute funding ban]

“Communist China is infiltrating American universities to meddle with our curricula, silence criticism of their regime, and steal intellectual property including sensitive dual-use research,” Cruz told The Washington Post in May. “The Confucius Institutes are the velvet glove around the iron fist of their campaigns on our campuses.”

UNF declined to comment beyond the initial statement, which indicates that all unused funds will be returned at the conclusion of the partnership.

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