Education Department Launches Investigation Into Harvard And Yale To Spot Possible Failures To Report Foreign Funding

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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The Education Department has launched investigations into Harvard and Yale as part of an “ongoing review” of U.S. universities in order to spot university failures to report foreign funding. 

The Department has discovered at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding from countries like China and Saudi Arabia, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investigations are part of the latest tensions between federal officials and U.S. universities, especially as tensions between China and the U.S. have escalated and Congress members have expressed their concerns about Chinese government influence on college campuses. (RELATED: Harvard Professor’s Arrest For Lying About China Ties Is Part Of Ongoing Crackdown On Chinese Government Influence At American Campuses)

Universities are required to disclose all contracts and gifts from foreign sources that, alone or combined, are $250,000 or more in a calendar year, but the department only recently began enforcing the statute despite it being decades old. The department described higher-education institutions as “multi-billion dollar, multi-national enterprises using opaque foundations, foreign campuses, and other sophisticated legal structures to generate revenue,” the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Officials accused schools of soliciting money from foreign entities that are hostile to the U.S. and could possibly be looking for opportunities to steal research or spread foreign government propaganda. Despite the foreign money often flowing in largest quantities to the country’s richest universities, the department found that the influx of money generally doesn’t offset American students’ tuition costs. 

Yale had failed to disclose at least $375 million in foreign funding after filing no reports between 2014-17, the Education Department said in the document viewed by the Wall Street Journal. In a letter on Tuesday to the university, the department sought records for contributions from Saudi Arabia, China and its telecom giants, Singapore, Qatar, among others.

Some universities have dismissed the U.S. government’s national security concerns and have said that international collaborations, specifically with China, are in the best interest of scientific discovery that will benefit humankind. 

The investigations have prompted universities to come forward and collectively report over $6.5 billion in foreign funding previously not reported. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, leaders of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said in a joint statement to the Wall Street Journal that “the fact that $6.5 billion in foreign gifts to U.S. institutions went unreported until now is shocking and unacceptable…We are pleased that the Department of Education is increasing enforcement efforts and taking a step towards ensuring academic freedom in America.”