An investigation by the United States Department of Education has revealed over $1 billion in anonymous foreign funding at colleges and universities nationwide, as well as a school with direct contracts with the Chinese Communist Party.
According to the Washington Examiner, the discovery lead to reforms for reporting foreign gifts and contracts enacted by the DOE on Monday:
The broad, yearlong inquiry into foreign funding on campus was launched in 2019, and since July of last year, U.S. colleges and universities have reported $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign gifts and contracts, according to a press release which added that institutions have “anonymized” the identities of the donors of at least $1.14 billion in foreign funds flowing in from China, Russia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
The Education Department, which has not yet completed the nationwide investigation, unveiled an online portal on Monday “that will make it easier for schools to report foreign gifts and contracts” above $250,000 as required by Section 117 of the Higher Education Act. The government believes that “it is not receiving sufficient information to determine compliance” with that law.
“Colleges and universities owe it to all of us to be transparent about their foreign financial ties,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, according to the press release. “Transparency and accountability help protect academic freedom and our country’s national security and economic future. Today, we are making it even easier for colleges and universities to follow the law and provide the transparency Americans deserve.”
The new online portal will require colleges and universities to furnish more information about their foreign financial connections and answer specific questions about each reportable transaction involving a foreign source, including whether the foreign source is a foreign government, a foreign corporation, a foreign individual, or someone acting as a foreign agent.
Last month, the Education Department warned House Republicans of the threat posed by the Chinese government and that its inquiry sparked “catch-up” reporting of more than $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign funds, the bulk of which were from Chinese and Middle Eastern sources on campuses nationwide.
The DOE also said in the press release that it is “spearheading … foreign source compliance and verification efforts” and added that it has uncovered “numerous” university contracts with companies subsidized by the Chinese government, including at least one with “direct contracts with the Chinese Communist Party itself.”
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