The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is closing its Confucius Institute as part of a multi-phase, $38.2 million budget reduction.
The process to close the institute will begin immediately and be completed by the end of the year. It is part of an initial, $16.38 million in budget reductions announced Aug. 31 by Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Founded in 2007 through a partnership with China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University, Nebraska’s Confucius Institute was the 20th in the United States and one of more than 500 worldwide. The institute was dedicated to the promotion and teaching of Chinese language and culture, inspiring students to learn more about China, and forging connections between Nebraskans and the people of China.
“The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our institution is substantial and it requires that we make tough choices,” Green said. “This closure does not mean a reduction in our broader commitment to global engagement. We remain deeply committed to the support of our Chinese students, direct exchanges with Chinese universities and our partnerships in China and that region of the world.”
Important University of Nebraska–Lincoln partners in China include Xi’an Jiaotong University; Zhejiang University City College, which offers a partnership degree program; and Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, which hosts a double-degree program in food science and technology. Both degree programs allow Chinese students to begin their studies in China before transferring to Nebraska to complete their education.
“Our plan is to find new ways to build on our relationships with those and other Chinese universities to increase the exchange of both ideas and people,” said Josh Davis, associate vice chancellor for global affairs and the university’s senior international officer. “With more than 3,000 years of history, culture and influence on the world, China is an important country. And, in this interconnected world, it is essential that Huskers — from here in the United States to those from China and all other nations — continue to interact and learn from and alongside one another.”
Chinese teachers through the institute who are in Nebraska middle and high schools will complete the current academic year. The university intends to engage the Nebraska Department of Education and other key partners to see if a plan can be developed to continue support for teaching of Chinese language.