Modern languages staff at Ulster University, Coleraine have warned its vice chancellor that its Confucius Institute may have to close.
In a letter to UU’s vice-chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon, seen by the BBC, nine academic staff in the university’s modern language department have warned that the Confucius Institute, which aims to develop academic and economic ties between China and Northern Ireland may have to close, following the decision to close its school of modern languages earlier this year as part of a response to budget cuts
The closure means that degrees in Chinese, French, Spanish and German will not be taught after 2019.
In the letter the staff say: “Our reputation at a whole series of levels will be further damaged when the Confucius Institute, in the bid for which we showed unwavering commitment to the promotion of modern languages, is withdrawn from us, as inevitably it must, and relocated elsewhere in NI.”
They also said the decision to close the school will cause “enormous damage” and expressed concern about how existing students will be able to finish their degrees.
In a statement in response, a university spokesperson said they were “currently exploring options for the teaching out of affected courses and would reassure students that their needs are being prioritised”.
“The Confucius Institute remains an integral part of the university and will continue to enhance academic, cultural, economic and social links between Northern Ireland and China.
“It will continue to support the teaching of Chinese in well over 100 schools across Northern Ireland, as well as the education of Chinese culture through community liaison initiatives and events.”