By Jude Klein | April 4, 2022
Photo Credit: Hanban
The university recently closed its Confucius Institute, a program supported by the Chinese government aimed at education and cultural exchange, due to concerns about losing essential federal funding in December.
Confucius Institutes (CI) aim to promote worldwide education in Chinese language and culture through classes and presentations. CIs also administer Chinese proficiency tests and train future teachers. The university’s Confucius Institute was “a valued source of cultural exchange within the greater Albany community,” according to Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, a university spokesman.
At the close of last semester, UAlbany joined a growing number of American universities in closing its Confucius Institute. As of December 2021, all CIs on SUNY campuses have been closed. According to the National Association of Scholars, there are now only 19 Confucius Institutes active in America, a significant decrease from the 103 in 2017.
Over the last few years, Confucius Institutes have become subjects of debate. Continuing to host a Confucius Institute on campus could have put critical federal research funding at risk, according to Carleo-Evangelist, who also said the university’s access to this funding is necessary due to its status as a research institution.
While the CI may be closed, Carleo-Evangelist stated that this does not reflect the university’s stance on cultural exchange programs in general. The university remains committed to fostering cultural education and exchange. “UAlbany will continue to support programming that promotes meaningful international and cultural exchanges that further the richness, diversity, and inclusivity of our campus,” Carleo-Evangelist stated.