Hanban to cover additional costs for Institute

Samantha Wright

Hanban, the division of the Chinese Education Ministry that oversees the Confucius Institutes, has agreed to cover all maintenance and operating costs for WKU’s Model Confucius Institute.

President Gary Ransdell said officials from Confucius Institute headquarters and the WKU Confucius Institute staff have spoken with the Hanban staff, and Hanban has agreed to cover the cost of maintenance and operation.

“The Chinese officials with the Confucius Institute headquarters and our CI [Confucius Institute] staff have communicated with Hanban staff in this regard, and they indicated that sure, they’d be happy to do that,” he said. “It’ll just be part of the budget for the Confucius Institute and be lined out in the budget we receive from Hanban.”

Ransdell said this decision by Hanban should help soothe things.

“There seemed to be some angst over WKU having to cover those costs, so that [covered cost] removes that as a stress point related to that building,” he said.

In a letter addressed to Kate Hudepohl, chairwoman of the University Senate and associate professor of folk studies and anthropology, Ransdell provided further insight into the information he gathered from his meeting with the Confucius Institute staff.

In the letter, he said Hanban has no interest in either operations or usage of the building, provided the building continues to house the Confucius Institute.

“They believe the building should be open to anyone or any group on campus who wishes to reserve it for an event or whatever uses which might be suitable for the classrooms,” Ransdell said in the letter.

The WKU facilities department calculated the maintenance and operating costs at $46,000 a year for the Confucius Institute building. Hanban will be covering this amount as part of the annual budget for the Confucius Institute.

Ransdell said it’s his understanding the building will open by next August, and this cost coverage will start in the fiscal year 2016-2017.

Terrill Martin, the managing director for the Confucius Institute, said this agreement was a recent development and was influenced by the recent discussion on campus.

“They agreed to provide funds to cover the operating cost so that the faculty and staff and students could see this more as a partnership, which it is, instead of a entity or a building owned by the Chinese government, which is not true,” he said.

He added that this means the operating cost won’t be drained from the university, and the amount saved could go to other things.

“I think one of the concerns was we haven’t had raises or things like that, and now we’re taking $50,000 a year that could be used for supporting the staff and students and faculty,” he said. “Now that money’s not allocated to the Confucius Institute; it’s now back with the university, and the university doesn’t have to be burdened with the maintenance and operations of the building.”

Martin said he believes it will be a positive thing.

“I just think that it’s a win-win for everyone,” he said.