The agreement to establish the Confucius Institute for Scotland was announced in March 2005 shortly after which work began to refurbish Abden House, a baronial mansion in the University of Edinburgh, as the prestigious headquarters building for the Institute. Professor Natascha Gentz, Chair of Chinese in the University was appointed as Director of the Institute. She rapidly developed an outreach programme and working in partnership with University staff and external agencies 2007 saw 'Cinema China' launch across Scotland.
With the appointment in 2007 of administrative staff and the arrival of the first language teacher from China, 2007 was a milestone year for the Institute which was recognised when the Institute receiving an Award for Excellence in Beijing's Great Hall of the People in the second Confucius Institute Network Conference.
In 2008, the Institute coordinated the ten-month long 'China Now in Scotland' festival and significantly increased its programme of language classes. December 2008 saw a second Award for Excellence being given to the Institute. Additional Awards for Excellence followed in 2009 and 2010 culminating in a Gold Medal Award for Outstanding Contribution which was awarded in December 2011.
Based in a grand baronial-style mansion adjacent to the University’s Pollock Halls of Residence, Abden House has been specially refurbished to create a fitting home for the Institute. The Institute houses a library, class and lecture rooms plus office accommodation. Abden House also offers superbly decorated drawing and dining rooms on the ground floor for hospitality and functions. Visitors and students alike will enjoy the superb location with access to beautiful gardens and magnificent views towards Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s famous extinct volcano.
These features combine to ensure that the Institute is a most impressive location, not only at which to study, but also one at which to host, organise or offer Sino-Scottish meetings, conferences and social events.
The Scottish centre is one of almost 300 Confucius Institutes around the world. The principal remit for Confucius Institutes is the promotion and development of Chinese language and culture. Each institute determines its own programme of activity based on market conditions.
The key objectives for the Confucius Institute for Scotland are:
- to help develop effective Sino-Scottish business, cultural and academic links
- to offer an extensive programme of Chinese language training
- to act as a bridge between Scotland and China aiding understanding and facilitating engagement.
- to be a major point of reference for Sino-Scottish relations in the areas of education, business and culture.
- to work with other stakeholders to develop greater awareness of China in Scotland
The Confucius Institute for Scotland also builds on existing links within the University of Edinburgh to various academic and cultural institutions in China. Its aims are to strengthen and expand these cultural and academic interactions as well as to explore and build new possibilities for exchange and collaboration.