CAUT is calling on universities and colleges to sever ties with institutes sponsored by China’s government. At CAUT’s council meeting in November, delegates voted in favour of a resolution calling for universities and colleges in Canada that currently house Confucius Institutes on their campuses to drop the institutes, and those contemplating such arrangements to cease.
“In agreeing to host Confucius Institutes, Canadian universities and colleges are compromising their integrity by allowing the Office of Chinese Language Council International to have a voice in a number of academic matters, such as curriculum, texts and topics of class discussion,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “Such interference is a fundamental violation of academic freedom.”
Confucius Institutes are academic units providing instruction in Chinese language and culture. Unlike Germany’s Goethe-Institut, the UK’s British Council and France’s Alliance Française, Confucius Institutes are most often on-campus cultural schools that offer accredited courses.
Turk noted the University of Manitoba decided against setting up an institute on campus over concerns about political censorship, and McMaster University severed the partnership with its institute in 2013 following a human rights complaint by an instructor who alleged discriminatory hiring practices against members of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China.
“Simply put, all university offerings should be under the exclusive control of the university and not a third party,” Turk said.
Canadian universities and colleges that currently host Confucius Institutes include the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Brock University, Carleton University, Dawson College, University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan, Seneca College, University of Sherbrooke, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Waterloo.