Monday, August 26, 2019

Pitt suspends its Confucius Institute.

The University of Pittsburgh has suspended its Confucius Institute.
The University of Pittsburgh has joined a growing list of American universities that have shuttered a Chinese language and culture program sponsored by the Chinese government.

Ariel Armony, Pitt’s vice provost for global affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies, said the university closed its Confucius Institute after the U.S. State Department issued “unwelcome and unexpected” guidance regarding the visas of 15 Chinese scholars who were scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh this fall to operate the program.

A Pitt spokesman said the university was informed it was out of compliance with J-1 visa regulations regarding interns at the Confucius Institute and was not able to make modifications in time for the fall semester.

The university's Confucius Institute made the following post on its website:
A few days ago, our Office of International Services received new guidance from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Private Sector Exchange Program Administration (OPA) regarding the visa status of 15 incoming scholars from China. These individuals were scheduled to arrive in the United States to participate in a language internship program of the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh (CI-Pitt) and offer Chinese language instruction to students in schools and colleges in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

Unfortunately, the new guidance from OPA impacts the University’s ability to host CI-Pitt scholars and precludes us from running the internship program in the 2019-2020 academic year.

For nearly 12 years, CI-Pitt has placed scholars from China in local K-12 schools and colleges to support Chinese language instruction. Since 2007, more than 36,000 students in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York have benefitted from the program, and the foreign language program for rural and suburban schools has created a conduit to the broader world and provided opportunities for social mobility through language acquisition. As the study of foreign languages decreases nationally, CI-Pitt has ensured that even more students have the opportunity to learn Chinese. As a direct result of the CI-Pitt program, 28 school districts across 22 counties now offer permanent Chinese language classes.

Despite this unwelcome and unexpected development, our network of global engagements is growing. Moving forward, we will continue to support and strengthen this network while adhering to all laws governing research, innovation and international partnerships. Such work is vital to our mission—and our future success. As Chancellor Patrick Gallagher shared in a recent message to the University community, our international pursuits and collaborations are truly “the oxygen for the University’s vibrant and rich academic environment.”