More British universities apply for Confucius Institutes

Updated: 2012-06-14 14:50

By Cecily Liu (

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More British universities are applying to open specialist Confucius Institutes.

Goldsmiths, University of London, launched a Confucius Institute dedicated to Chinese dance in March. Sussex University has applied for one for Chinese theater, while the University of the Arts hopes to open another dedicated to Chinese art and design.

"So many people want Confucius Institutes that if you can say, 'well I want one for this special purpose'," said Nick Byrne, Director of the London School of Economics' Confucius Institute.

Started by the Chinese government in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture abroad, Confucius Institutes are nonprofit organizations affiliated with Western academic institutions, including secondary schools and universities.

Applications are submitted by the foreign institutions and seconded by their Chinese partner institutions. Hanban approves the best candidates and allocates a certain amount of funding, while the foreign institutions pay for the remaining costs.

The LSE established a specialist Confucius Institute to teach business Mandarin in partnership with Tsinghua University five years ago. The institute has already taught 200 students, mainly executives and managers in London's financial center.

The courses are tailored for one-to-one or small group lessons and include words or phrases the students request to learn. Lesson times can also be shifted at short notice to accommodate the schedules of busy executives.

Although the LSE also teaches Mandarin to its own students as elective classes, these courses are not compulsory.

In comparison, lessons at some specialist Confucius Institutes are an irreplaceable part of the students' degrees.

The London South Bank University, which established a Confucius Institute for traditional Chinese medicine in partnership with two Chinese universities five years ago, currently runs a four-year Masters program in Acupuncture.