Universities will keep Confucius Institutes, despite criticism

Officials with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan say their respective Confucius Institues will remain, despite criticisms.

Officials with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan say their respective Confucius Institutes will remain, despite criticisms.

An organization called the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUTS) has been calling for universities to do away with their Confucius Institutes, which are partly financed and controlled by the Chinese government.

The institutes in Regina and Saskatoon opened three years ago and offer courses in Chinese languages and culture.

Len Findlay, from CAUTS, told CBC News that he questions the the standards of the institute, especially when it comes to academic freedom.

"Anyone who is an educator working on a university campus should be qualified to do that work," Findlay said in a recent interview. "And they should enjoy academic freedom without compromise or diminishment while they do that work."

Officials say the institutes are worthwhile.

"China is a very important partner," David Parkinson, from the University of Saskatchewan, told CBC News. He added the institute is not providing courses for university credit. "It's important to recognize the limit placed on the level of the classes that are in fact offered. These are highly introductory classes."

An official from the University of Regina, Thomas Chase, said students have not complained about the institute and both the U of R and the U of S said they would never compromise their academic integrity.

For its part, one of the people from the Confucius Institute in Regina said it does not shy away from topics that may be sensitive to the government of China.

"We encourage people to raise questions," Daniel Huang, who teaches Chinese cultural history at the U of R's Confucius Institute, told CBC News.

Findlay said he plans to raise the matter at the next meeting of the U of S council, which plays a role in the oversight of the university.


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