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Published: October 21, 2020  Updated: October 21, 2020 at 9:42 am EST
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American prestigious universities failed to report gifts and contracts totaling 6.5 billion dollars from foreign governments and other entities. These universities include Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and many others. The donors include; China, Qatar, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

According to the law, universities must report substantial contributions from foreign governments, and these universities failed to report $6.5 billion. Further, Universities already had reported receiving $19.6 billion from 2014 to 2020. The institutions reported receiving $1.5 billion from China, almost $3.1 billion from Qatar, and more than $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia.

However, in regards to the undisclosed foreign money that the universities had received, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the investigation findings at an event on Oct. 20, alongside officials from the Justice Department and the State Department.

“The threat is real, so we took action to make sure the public is afforded the transparency the law requires,” DeVos said. “We found pervasive noncompliance by higher-ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities.”

The vast majority of the foreign funds went to America’s largest and most prestigious universities, which have received billions of dollars through a bevy of intermediaries, according to a report released by the DOE on Oct. 20. All of the institutions involved are, in the meantime, dependent on tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies while operating largely “divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values,” the DOE report states.

For the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. universities retroactively reported $2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts. One school, which isn’t identified in the report, failed to report $760 million in foreign funding. University officials told the DOE they were “dumbfounded” by the reporting error. Another unnamed school failed to report $1.2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts.


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Universities have long been on notice that a substantial amount of foreign money is coming from sources hostile to the United States seeking “to project soft power, steal sensitive and proprietary research, and spread propaganda,” the report states.

Section 117 of the Higher Education Act mandates the reporting of foreign gifts or contracts exceeding $250,000 by universities. The act empowers the DOE to refer compliance failures to the Department of Justice, which can then carry out an enforcement action to obtain the records and recover compliance costs.

“Institutions manage to track every cent owed and paid by their students; there is no doubt they can—and indeed do—track funds coming from foreign sources, including those adversarial to American interests,” the report states. “Nevertheless, our investigations confirm a Senate subcommittee’s finding that Section 117 reporting is systemically underinclusive and inaccurate.”

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