Overseas Students: China

Department for Education written question – answered at on 22 May 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that Chinese students in UK universities, particularly those who are linked to China's military, are properly vetted and do not pose a threat to activists and people from Hong Kong based in UK universities who are campaigning against the actions of China and the Chinese Communist Party.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

Higher education (HE) in the UK is recognised as world class and attracting the brightest students from around the world is good for UK universities. However, the government takes seriously any concerns about overseas interference in the UK’s HE sector. The department continually assesses potential threats, and takes the protection of individuals’ rights, freedoms and safety in the UK very seriously.

Any attempt by a foreign power to intimidate, harass or harm individuals or communities in the UK will not be tolerated. The National Security Act (2023) brings together vital new measures to protect the UK’s national security. The Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) has been created to tackle covert influence in the UK.

The Defending Democracy Taskforce is reviewing the UK’s approach to transnational repression to ensure that there is a robust and joined up response across government and law enforcement.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023 will ensure that universities in England have the tools they need to deal with interference with, and threats to, freedom of speech and academic freedom wherever they originate.

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