New Florida Law Sparks Controversy Among Universities

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
December 22, 2023China in Focus

A Florida law is sparking controversy in academia. The law bans state universities from taking grants from China plus six other countries.

It also prohibits state colleges from partnering with colleges or entities from these countries. So even though Floridian universities can admit students from those countries, they can’t hire them to do research projects unless they get waivers from the state’s top higher education body.

The biggest share of Florida’s international students comes from China.

The law affects twelve public colleges and universities in the state. They’re still working out policies to conform to the new statute.

The University of Florida has suspended hiring graduate and PhD students from these countries. However, the move has already faced pushback. Over 300 faculty members wrote a letter to the university’s president, urging him to continue hiring talent regardless of where they come from.

State lawmakers say the rule aims to prevent Beijing from spreading influence on Florida’s campuses. Chinese money has long been flowing into America’s higher education system. In 2020, several top universities—including Yale and Cornell—were found to have failed to report over $3 billion in foreign gifts. Many of those donations came from China and Qatar.

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