The UK government is seeking to protect universities from “undue foreign influences that work against British values,” by forcing higher education institutions to report the financial links they have with individuals or organisations from overseas.
The new rules, which could be introduced as part of an amendment to the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, is aimed at ensuring “UK values cannot be compromised,” in the face of rising concerns around the impact of Chinese money in British universities.
The laws would force universities to report any financial links worth more than £75,000 with individuals or organisations from countries that are not in NATO, the European Union, or Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS).
The new laws would therefore exclude countries including Turkey, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and Canada, but would instead on focus on countries such as China, that have channelled significant funds into the UK’s education system.
The amendment comes after Conservative party MP Alicia Kearns raised concerns about the role that China’s Confucius Institutes have over teaching of Mandarin in the UK, as she argued that “education is being weaponised by those against us”.
However, in response to Kearns’ comments, Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russel Group, said the issue of Chinese funding was being “blown out of proportion”.