On Aug. 26, the University of North Texas terminated its relationship with visitors receiving money from the China Scholarship Council. The CSC awards government funded scholarships for mainland scholars to study abroad and international students to learn in China.
Jim Berscheidt, Vice President for University Brand Strategy and Communications, said the decision is "limited to 15 visiting researchers funded by this particular organization [CSC], and does not impact any student enrolled and studying at the university. UNT continues to welcome visiting scholars from around the world, including China."
Despite UNT's faculty response, several of these scholars believe they are students of the university. Two of these scholars are willing to share their stories anonymously. We have chosen to number each visitor to protect their identities.
Scholar One, a Ph.D. student from China, is the first of his family to study in America. In a face-to-face interview, Scholar One said that "international exchange is beneficial for both of us [USA and China]… We came from top universities from China." Scholar Two, a philosophy major, chose UNT because of our longstanding relationship with the CSC. Over a phone call, Scholar Two expressed admiration for UNT’s students, professors and departments.
These scholars have less than two weeks to break their leases, sell non-transportable items, and purchase a plane ticket to China. Airfare starts at roughly $2,000, involves multiple self-transfers, and must be purchased out-of-pocket. Failure to leave by Sept. 30 could bring forced expulsion.
"I have no idea why they are doing this. I am a visiting student here. Everything I did is legal, and I obey academic, moral standard. I don't know why they are doing this to us," said Scholar One.
In a later statement, Berscheidt said, "UNT took this action based upon specific and credible information following detailed briefings from federal and local law enforcement." Allison Beckwith, a spokesperson for the Denton Police Department, said they are "in no way involved in this case."
"They should at least give us a few months to prepare for everything before we leave… This [termination] is very bad for UNT's reputation. It's my loss, but it's also UNT's loss,” said Scholar One.
A petition asking UNT to retract its decision has reached nearly 6,500 signatures. At the time this was written, UNT is the only American institution to cut ties with the Chinese Scholarship Council.
By Andrew Fancher