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Consensus Study Report
Confucius Institutes at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education: Waiver Criteria for the Department of Defense


More than 100 U.S. institutions of higher education hosted Confucius Institutes (CIs), Chinese government-funded language and culture centers, on campus during the late 2000s and 2010s. While CIs provided a source of funding and other resources that enabled U.S. colleges and universities to build capacity, offer supplemental programming, and engage with the local community, CIs presented an added, legitimate source of risk to host institutions with respect to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and national security.

By 2017, deteriorating U.S.-China relations led some U.S. colleges and universities to reconsider the value of having a CI on campus. Sustained interest by Congress and political pressure led numerous U.S.-based CIs to close, especially following the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained a provision that ultimately barred institutions receiving Department of Defense (DOD) critical language flagship funding in Chinese from hosting a CI. While this provision allowed for a waiver process - and several affected colleges and universities applied for waivers in 2018 and 2019 - DOD did not issue any waivers. Today, seven CIs remain on U.S. university and college campuses. At the request of DOD, Confucius Institutes at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education presents a set of findings and recommendations for waiver criteria to potentially permit the continued presence of CIs on U.S. university campuses that also receive DOD funding.


Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Confucius Institutes at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education: Waiver Criteria for the Department of Defense. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

130 pages | 6 x 9 | Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-69486-5

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