An update on FOI request to the Univeristy

Updating on a motion brought to Students' Council

Update from your sabbs

At our Students’ Union Council on 21st October 2021 a motion was passed entitled: “Mandate the Sabbatical Officers to investigate Newcastle University’s hiring practices and for the creation of the NUSU modern slavery policy”. 

One of the resolves of this motion was as follows: “To mandate the sabbatical officers to submit a comprehensive freedom of information request to Newcastle University regarding all knowledge on the hiring practices of the Confucius Institute at Newcastle University.” it then listed 7 specific questions and also mandated “for Union staff to publish and publicise the University’s unredacted response online when received after the legally binding window for a response closes.” 

Following this motion passing, an FOI request was submitted to the University, an acknowledgment was received within the legal window and at the end of last week, we received the University’s full response. This response answers each of the specific questions laid out in the motion and as per the mandate from Student Council, we are now publicising that information unredacted below. The document which the response refers to, which was attached to the response, can be viewed here

a. *To publish the contracts between Hanban, Newcastle University and our partner institution Xiamen University. 

Please see the attached document. Parts of this document have been redacted as they contain personal data and this information is exempt from disclosure under s40(2) s40(3)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act (2000). 

b. Does Newcastle University know whether or not if it is a contractual requirement of CI staff to obey Chinese law while in the UK? 

Yes, Chinese staff in the UK must still abide by Chinese law as well as UK law. 

c. Are there any non-disclosure agreements with Hanban or Xiamen University or any parts of the contract that limit the press releases of Newcastle University in any way? 

There are no non-disclosure agreements with Hanban or Xiamen University. Nor is there anything in the contract that limits what Newcastle University can say in any of its press releases or other publicity material.  

d.  What are the termination provisions of the contract, do they require Newcastle University to assume all costs of the program if terminated before the contracts end date? 

Each party must give 6 months' notice in advance before terminating the contracts before the end date. It would be expected that the remaining balance on the Chinese side would be refunded. 

e. Does Newcastle University know the hiring processes and criteria used by Hanban to recruit Chinese directors and teachers into our CI in China? 

Newcastle University is not involved in the appointment selection process of Chinese staff which takes place in China through Xiamen's CLEC. 

f. What safeguarding measures has the university has taken to avoid religious or other discrimination of potential staff members applying to join the CI? 

Newcastle University does not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our community and we are committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all. Any complaints of discrimination of any kind that are made by staff are investigated either under the Dignity and Respect Policy or the Disciplinary Policy.  

g. Is Newcastle University privy to the contracts or agreements between Hanban and Xiamen University and their Chinese instructors and directors? 

There is a bilateral contract between CLEC at Xiamen and Newcastle University therefore we are privy to all the clauses and agreements set up by the two partners regarding the Chinese Instructors and Directors. However, Newcastle University is not involved in the internal selection process that takes place within the CLEC at Xiamen. CI staff are guest members of staff at Newcastle University and their employment contract is with Xiamen University. 

h. If not then are Newcastle University officials, therefore, not in a position to understand if Hanban’s hiring procedures or practices are consistent with their own staff hiring and UK employment law? 

See Question above.