Alumni associations, donations seen as way forward for Confucius centers.
The Confucius Institute program, a rapidly expanding Chinese language instruction and cultural program, is discussing channels of integrating social resources and diversified investment.
The feasibility of establishing a Confucius Institute Alumi Association and a Confucius Institute Foundation became a hot subject at the ninth Confucius Institute Conference on Dec 8 in Xiamen, Fujian province.
“We are planning to start from establishing an alumni association－a platform that allows people from all walks of life to give their support to us,” said Xu Lin, chief executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
In November 2013, a decision passed by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party encouraged social organizations and Chinese-funded institutions to get involved in the development of Confucius Institutes, which, for the first time, eased regulations on multichannel financing of the institute.
“Some Chinese companies such as Kweichow Moutai Group, Hainan Airlines and CITIC Group have expressed their interest in supporting Confucius Institutes,” Xu said. “ As for the donation path, it is necessary for us to make the decision only after a thorough discussion.”
Both a foundation and an alumni association would support the educational mission of Confucius Institutes, said Steven Knapp, president of the George Washington University, in the US.
“Different functions could be developed by a foundation, such as having cultural programs and scholarships. An alumni network would play a role in providing opportunities to help each other and exchange ideas,” said Knapp.
Gao Fangfang, director of the Confucius Institute in Munich, Germany, said it would be difficult to establish a global alumni association.
“The network would be too big to organize,” Gao said, adding a “bottom-up” approach should be adopted, with one single alumni association being set up in its own region.
Her institute set up an alumni association in June, and the institute had staged some activities in accordance with the will of alumni, she said.
Gary Ransdell, president of Western Kentucky University, USA, suggested Confucius Institute Headquarters clarify the reference to “alumni”, since Confucius Institutes are not exactly colleges, and the alumni association idea may also include the participants of Confucius Institutes’ programs.
In the past twelve months, 35 Confucius Institutes and 205 Confucius Classrooms have opened worldwide－the equivalent of a new Confucius Institute opening every 10 days and a new Confucius Classroom opening every two days.
The two-day conference, which started on Dec 7, gathered principals from 475 Confucius Institutes and 851 Confucius Classrooms in 126 countries and regions.