- In a court filing, the New Jersey Attorney General's office has taken a position that might hamper Rider University's efforts to sell its Westminster Choir College to Chinese interests, a proposed deal that has prompted lawsuits on two fronts, NPR reported.
- In what opponents see as a win, the office recommended Rider get court permission if it intends to ignore terms that specify how proceeds of the sale can be used, Inside Higher Ed reported. An attorney for The Westminster Foundation, a group suing to block the $56 million deal, said it would mean Rider likely would have to sell the college to a nonprofit educational institution, the publication noted.
- The state attorney general also took the position that the college's $19 million endowment should not be included in the sale without a court ruling, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Westminster, while distinguished as a music school, has struggled financially. It merged with Rider nearly three decades ago. In 2017 Rider announced plans to sell, signing an agreement last year with the for-profit Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Company, a Chinese business and education group with a nonprofit arm that it formed for the deal.
Chinese investors have shown interest in other U.S. college campuses, according to Bloomberg, at a time when their country's ties with U.S. colleges have been the subject of scrutiny. One area of focus has been the presence of the Confucius Institute's cultural education programming on some 100 college campuses, as well as in K-12 classrooms.
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Watch issued a 12-point Code of Conduct advising U.S. colleges on how to handle threats to academic freedom from the Chinese government while also mentoring and supporting Chinese students and scholars at their institutions. The guidance follows the recent release of two U.S. government reports that call attention to concerns about the role of Confucius Institutes on campuses as many colleges begin to cut ties with the organization.
Meanwhile, Chinese investors and other interests are eyeing closed U.S. colleges to use as educational campuses in order to create pathways for Chinese students to attend college in the U.S. Among them, undisclosed Chinese interests bought the former Daniel Webster College, in New Hampshire, for about $12 million. The campus of the closed Saint Paul's College, in Virginia, sold for $2.5 million to a company backed by Chinese investors. And late last year, Chinese tutoring and career services company Ambow Education bought Bay State College, in Boston.