The UJCI is one of a growing network of Confucius Institutes around the world. The purpose of the CI programme is to promote the study of Chinese and an interest in and appreciation of Chinese culture.
The programme is named after the noted Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius (551–479 BC), who is credited with writing many classic Chinese texts, and whose principles had a basis in common Chinese traditions and beliefs.
The first Confucius Institute was established in 2004 in Seoul, South Korea. Today, there are almost 500 CIs in dozens of countries around the world. The Chinese Ministry of Education has estimated that some 100 million people overseas may be learning Chinese, and the programme is expanding rapidly in order to keep up. Hanban reportedly aims to establish 1 000 Confucius Institutes by 2020.
Confucius Institutes develop Chinese language courses, train teachers, stage HSK Examinations (the international Chinese proficiency test), and provide information about contemporary China. They also provide Chinese language teaching staff from Mainland China.
Confucius Institutes are administered by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, an independent, non-profit organisation based in Beijing. The CI programme is managed by the Office of Chinese Language Council International, or Hanban, which falls under the Chinese Ministry of Education.
According to its mission statement, Hanban is committed to developing Chinese language and culture teaching resources and making its services available worldwide, meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners, and contributing to global cultural diversity and harmony. Generally, the Council is charged with cultivating knowledge and interest in the Chinese language and culture in countries around the world whose peoples are not native speakers of Chinese.
Most Confucius Institutes are partnerships between a foreign university, the Confucius Institute HQ and one or more Chinese university partners. The UJCI’s Chinese university partner is Nanjing Tech University, a comprehensive university with an engineering focus based in Nanjing in China’s Jiangsu Province.