April 7, 2017 12:13:04 am
The British, who have returned to traditional insularity with Brexit, are nevertheless beset. Arab money started buying into premium British brands and real estate in the Eighties. Russian and American ownership of soccer teams in the 21st century is even more galling. And now, Beijing University has snuck up on Oxford and snapped up the £8.8 million home of a defunct earl. Its proposed business school is not part of Oxford University, it isn’t anywhere near those dreaming spires, but it’s still a Chinese campus and it’s enough to put the English off Peking duck forever.
Because last year, Chinese president Xi Jinping had declared that Chinese campuses should be communist party strongholds. It’s nice to know that India isn’t alone in its determination to grow a political monoculture on campus, but the British are unamused. Especially because the purchase of the earl’s property may have been facilitated by the party, by setting aside strict currency controls. And in a cruel blow, the ailment of the pound following Brexit made it even easier for Beijing University to brush aside the competition, which included a true-blue Oxford college.
While England has been exporting higher education to the Asian nations, this is a rare instance of Asia returning the compliment. India numbers among the countries which have dusted off the welcome mat for UK universities, but this business of importing higher education is not unfraught. Foreign campuses come with foreign faculty and foreign ways. India has been an instinctively liberal nation, but these days we are happy to take offence at any sign of difference — in how people look, what they wear, what they say and what they eat. What if someone can’t stomach what our children are taught by foreign courses? Will the contents of their minds be genetically inspected, like that of refrigerators?
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