According to recent reports, the FBI has urged universities in the United States to monitor Chinese nationals enrolled in their programs and caused higher education organizations to express concerns.
In a recent statement published by PEN America, requests by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to monitor students from China are in breach of democratic principles and pose a threat to the freedom of expression and knowledge of students in universities.
PEN American Center (now known as PEN America), founded in 1922 and headquartered in New York City, is a nonprofit organization that works to defend and celebrate free expression in the United States and worldwide through the advancement of literature and human rights.
Commenting on the issue, the President of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, Lynn Pasquerella, claimed that requests to separate students by nationality are putting universities in a morally questionable situation.
Cyberattacks on higher ed institutions
The joint statement also points out that China is known for employing questionable surveillance tactics; however, US authorities should not turn to practices they do not condone.
There has been a wave of cyberattacks against US universities and schools in recent months. One of the hacks even managed to cause a delay in the beginning of the school year for all public schools in Alabama.
Cyberattacks are becoming a common occurrence among education institutions all over the world, as they can yield a large amount of personal information, which can later be used for statistical and intelligence research. However, US authorities are trying to legally obtain all this information by requesting it from universities, which is a concerning decision.
The current political tensions between the United States and China have been a reason for concern for a lot of higher education institutions across the country. According to statistics, more than thirty percent (30%) of all international students in the United States are Chinese.