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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel will not extend its contract with the Confucius Institute which expires in June 2020. This is the decision made by the Board of Directors this evening. The university is of the opinion that cooperating with the institution is no longer consistent with its policies and objectives. “The VUB is always open to new collaborations with Chinese universities, scientists and students, on the condition that academic freedom and independence can be guaranteed in mutual trust.”
The Confucius Institute has been on the VUB agenda for a while by means of external and internal evaluations. Based on the information thus obtained, the university is of the opinion that continuation of the cooperation is not in line with its principles of free research. The recent press coverage on the Confucius Institute of the VUB has been an additional element in the considerations of the Board of Directors.
“Collaborations are only an option for the VUB when the actions of partners concerned meet our basic principle of free research. In line with this vision, the Board of Directors determined that cooperation with the Confucius Institute no longer complies with the current policy objectives and will, therefore, not be extended” explains VUB Rector Caroline Pauwels.
For this academic year, students of Chinese will be able to complete their minor Chinese language, culture and society without any significant changes. However, for the following year the university will find a solution in which the courses are given by other teachers. The university will also find a solution for any staff paid by the Confucius Institute.
Our doors remain open
The VUB emphasizes that there are currently well running collaborations and that the university will continue to search for new academic scientific collaborations and student exchanges with Chinese (educational) institutions in the future, provided that they meet the principle of free research. At the request of the Board of Directors, the vice-rector for Internationalisation will define a new policy plan. This policy will be based on the principles of proportionality, reciprocity, transparency and integrity, in line with the objectives and values of the university.
Rector Caroline Pauwels says: “The VUB is a great advocate of academic collaboration across borders, also with institutions in countries where freedoms are under pressure, and this through research and student exchanges. In this way we build a real ‘’universitas’: a place where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged freely, unburdened by regimes, ideology or borders. After all, as a free university, we invest in the talents of young people, not in regimes.”