- The US Department of Education has launched a probe of foreign funding to Harvard and Yale universities.
- An ongoing review has revealed that US universities have not disclosed $US6.5 billion in foreign investment, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- Foreign money goes to the wealthiest universities in the US but “does not reduce or otherwise offset American students’ tuition costs,” a department document alleges.
- Officials are seeking information particularly related to funding from Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Qatar and Iran, claiming national security concerns.
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Foreign funding has placed Harvard and Yale in the crosshairs of a Department of Education investigation.
In an ongoing review, officials have discovered that US universities have neglected to report at least $US6.5 billion that have come from countries like China and Saudi Arabia, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Universities in the US are mandated to report all foreign contracts and gifts that – separately or combined – amount to $US250,000 or more in a calendar year.
Education Department documents reviewed by the Journal that describe higher-education establishments as “multi-billion dollar, multi-national enterprises using opaque foundations, foreign campuses, and other sophisticated legal structures to generate revenue.”
The Education Department’s concern, according to the Journal, stems from universities seeking money from companies and authoritarian governments like China and Saudi Arabia. In turn, those entities want to steal US research and spread propaganda, the department alleges.
Harvard University has been asked to disclose any investments that have come from the governments of China, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, the Journal said. Officials are also seeking details about China-based Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp., Russia’s Kaspersky Lab and Skolkovo Foundation, and Iran’s Alavi Foundation.
For its part, Yale has been accused of failing to report an estimated $US375 million in foreign funding between 2014 and 2017, a period in which it did not file reports, the Journal said. Education Department officials are seeking from them records of contributions from Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar, and others. They are also soliciting additional information about the foreign funding sources of Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Centre and the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs, the Journal reported.
Some universities have pushed back against the apparent national security fears, saying that research should not be restricted and is – particularly in the case of Chinese collaborators – necessary to advance science and help people around the world.