FO fear sparks Sino inquiry

May 15, 1998

Foreign Office pressure has led to the setting-up of a funding council inquiry into the state of Chinese studies in United Kingdom universities.

The review, headed by Bahram Bekhradnia, head of policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, has been created by the English and Scottish funding councils. It will report back to them by the end of October. Institutions have been asked to submit evidence by June 26.

Mr Bekhradnia, who chaired the 1995 inquiry into academic provision on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, said: "The reasons are similar to then - disquiet that an important part of the world is undergoing, or possibly about to undergo, immense changes and that we might not be ready to respond to that. The difference is that where the pressure on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union came from business, this time the concern has mostly come from the Foreign Office."

The 1995 report led to the creation of 33 funded posts in UK universities.

The committee remit defines Chinese studies as "Chinese languages, area studies and work within any academic discipline, including the social sciences, in relation to China".

The 11-strong committee, with business and government representation, includes four academics - Ian Gow of Sheffield University; Christopher Howe of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Bonnie McDougall of Edinburgh University and Michael Yahuda of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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