To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission's report of 18 February 2019, what assessment he has made of the validity of concerns that China’s Confucius Institutes may represent a threat to academic freedoms and freedom of expression.
We have read the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission’s report with interest and note its conclusions.
The UK values its relationship with China, and recognises that education has an important role to play in providing opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration and partnerships between the two countries. Universities are autonomous institutions and can choose who they cooperate with, including whether to partner with Chinese Higher Education Institutions or Confucius Institutes.
We encourage UK Higher education providers to work with international partners, including from China. However, providers have duties to ensure that in doing so, freedom of expression is protected for students and staff, and that the academic freedoms of their staff are protected, by taking reasonable steps to ensure debates and discussions can go ahead.
The government, with the support of key stakeholders in the higher education sector, has worked alongside the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to produce new guidance ‘Freedom of Expression: A Guide for Higher Education Providers and Students’ Unions in England and Wales’.