UCD seeks Chinese backers

Theo McDonald

Image Credit: UCD

University College Dublin (UCD) is seeking to strengthen its ties to Chinese funds, despite ongoing allegations that the Chinese government has influence over academic output by the university.

The Business Post reported last Sunday that UCD tendered an application to extract monies from the Department of Justice’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) which allows those outside the European Economic Area (EEA) access to an Irish visa.

Applicants must have donated to an Irish charitable or philanthropic cause in the last three years.

Donations range from between €500,000 – €1 million. 

Several Chinese citizens have availed of the programme to secure Irish visas. UCD cited its large Chinese student population – 800 – in the tender application. 

Speaking to The College View a spokesperson for the department stated that “all applications (to the IIP) are subject to a robust due diligence process in respect of both personal and financial checks to protect the State’s interests”. 

The news comes amid pressure within UCD to cease ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Confucius Institute, named after the Chinese philosopher, located on UCD’s Belfield campus, is a Chinese-State affiliated institution teaching students Chinese history and politics. The Irish Institute for Chinese Studies (IICS), also located in UCD, teaches a similar curriculum. 

Antecedent to the establishment of both institutions UCD declared a willingness to abandon academic freedom in order to “internationalise higher education”. The statement was later rescinded following uproar from UCD staff. 

In September last year, two UCD professors, David Farrell and Alexander Dukalskis wrote in the Irish Times about “illiberal incursions on Ireland’s academic freedom” with reference to the Chinese State. 

Warnings of illiberal tendencies seeping into universities follows a trend across the State.

Last week The Sunday Times’ Irish edition reported that the US Embassy warned Technological University Dublin (TUD) of developing ties with the China based Harbin Institute for Technology after approaches were made to establish a joint international campus in Dublin.

The Chinese institute has been accused by the US government of acquiring foreign technology for the Chinese military.

Theo McDonald

Image Credit:  UCD