British universities warn of financial dependence on Chinese students and Confucius Institutes


The higher education regulator warned Thursday that over-reliance on Chinese and other international students is putting British universities at financial risk.

The Office of Students (OfS) said it had sent letters to high-risk universities asking them to develop contingency plans to safeguard their financial sustainability.

China-focused think tanks are urging regulators and universities hosting China’s state-run Confucius Institutes to ensure new laws are enforced if the institutes fail to uphold free speech and academic freedom. This comes after announcing that it was sending a letter asking it to do so.

Over-reliance on international students is a ‘major risk’

In the report (pdf) On the financial sustainability of UK higher education institutions, OfS said that one of the main risks facing higher education institutions is their reliance on international student recruitment “particularly from a single country such as China”. said it was.

As universities look to diversify their income, new Indian students began to outnumber Chinese students in the UK and other English-speaking countries last year, but OfS’s latest analysis finds that the sector and some providers is shown. It continues to rely on tuition fees, especially from Chinese students.

According to the report, compared to education- and professional-intensive providers, the large research-focused providers “recruit a significant number of international students, particularly from China, who often complete a one-year postgraduate program. I am enrolled in a master’s program taught at

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Number of first year students living outside the UK by place of residence from 07/2006 to 22/2021. Data source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (The Epoch Times)

according to Times of LondonAccording to data analysis by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 144 UK universities had students from China in the 2020/21 academic year, ranging from 0.03 per cent of all students to almost half (45.64 per cent) of all students, and the prestigious Members of Russell University were also included. This group represented 11 of her 15 universities with the highest percentage of students from China.

OfS also said many providers “foresee a significant increase in the number of international students”.

The group warns of potential “significant impacts” from “any event that reduces these student flows”, such as changes in the geopolitical environment, and makes contingency plans for high-risk providers. I requested.

Student fees are just one part of the income stream for universities from China. Information gathered through the Epoch Times Freedom of Information request reveals that a “surprising number of British universities” have “received millions of pounds” from Chinese donors between 2018 and 2022. This includes companies blacklisted by other countries due to national security concerns. telecommunications giant Huawei.

Confucius Institute

The OfS report, released a week after the new law was passed, said the think tank UK-China Transparency likely gave regulators sufficient powers to shut down the UK’s Confucius Institutes.

The UK-China Transparency Group announced on Thursday that it had sent a letter to the university governing body OfS, British Universities and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to share its findings and “ensure law enforcement”.

It will also provide data and information to “scholars and students who want to take action,” the think tank said in a Twitter post.

The Confucius Institutes, a Chinese government-sponsored organization that runs Chinese language courses and promotes cultural events around the world, are subject to censorship of speech, discrimination against ethnic minorities in China, propaganda of communist ideology, and host institutions. has also been accused of exercising unfair influence.

There are 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK, the highest number in the world after most US chapters were closed following the Trump administration’s decision to designate the US Center of the Confucius Institutes as a foreign mission. rice field.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (PA) leaves 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister’s Q&A at the Houses of Parliament in London, 15 March 2023

Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday that Prime Minister Rishi Suak had backtracked on a campaign promise to close the UK’s Confucius Institutes, but Sam Dunning, head of the UK-China Transparency Bureau, told The Epoch Times. In response, New Higher Education said: (Freedom of Speech) The law is likely to be enough to close UK research institutes that do not protect free speech.

The think tank has previously reported that research institute staff from China were “recruited overseas on the basis of their ability to ‘enforce the discipline of the Communist Party of China,’ forced to interfere in university life, and harassed Chinese citizens and families.” I found evidence that it is a threat.” “China” is a “gross and systemic threat to the UK’s academic freedom and the safety of university students,” Mr Dunning said.

In the new paper (pdf) The UK-China Transparency, which was announced on Thursday, said the measures in the new law on free speech “will have a strong impact on Confucius Institute programs.”

Under the new law, universities must take steps to protect the freedom of speech and academic freedom of all members, students and staff, the report said.

OfS is also required to monitor foreign funding for universities and “assess the threat that arrangements involving foreign funding pose to academic freedom and freedom of speech,” it added.

“This law provides clear legal responsibility to OfS and its future Director of Free Speech and Academic Freedom, because universities that fail to uphold free speech and academic freedom would be in violation of their registration requirements.” It will “ensure that British universities abide by the law and stop the illegal operation of Confucius Institutes,” the report said.

Patricia Devlin contributed to this report.