The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

VUB ends partnership with Confucius Institute

13:45 11/12/2019

The Free University of Brussels (VUB) has announced that it will cease collaborating with a local branch of the Chinese Confucius Institute from next year onward.

The university’s board of directors decided on Tuesday that the current collaboration agreement with the Confucius Institute would not be extended after it ends in June of next year.

“The university has decided that the collaboration does not meet the fundamental principles of independent research based on external and internal evaluations,” the university said in a press statement. 

The Confucius Institute has been mired in controversy since October when Belgium’s state security service banned Xinning Song, its former director, from the European Schengen zone. Song is suspected of having tried to recruit informants for the Chinese intelligence services. 

The Brussels university said students who are currently pursuing Mandarin lessons would be able to continue doing so next year. The university will, however, begin looking for new teachers who will be able to teach the courses previously taught by Confucius Institute. It will also seek a solution for the personnel members whose salaries are currently paid with Confucius Institute funds.

“The VUB is a great proponent of cross-border, academic collaboration, including with institutions in countries where freedoms are under pressure,” VUB rector Caroline Pauwels said in the press statement. “That’s how we help build a real universitas, where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged without restriction, irrespective of regimes, ideology or borders,” she said.

Confucius Institutes are widespread in the US, Korea and Japan, but less so in Europe.

Photo courtesy VUB 

Written by Linda A. Thompson