U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, in Washington, DC, U.S., September 24, 2020. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS


A report issued Tuesday by the Department of Education accused universities of failing to disclose foreign gifts and contracts. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the initial, year-long investigation uncovered approximately $6.5 billion in unreported funds from schools failing to report gifts totaling $250,000 or more.

“We found pervasive noncompliance by higher ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities,” DeVos said. DeVos said that entanglement posed a national security risk because of the influence of foreign adversaries such as Russia, China and Qatar. In the report, the department cited numerous examples of how it says that influence tampered with students’ education, including how one donation by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to Georgetown University empowered the Saudis to push an ideologically-driven narrative through the teaching of specific topics relevant to the Middle East. 

In June, the department unveiled a new online portal for universities to report foreign gifts and contracts. Approximately 60 of the institutions who have filed through this portal so far had not submitted any reports between 1986 and June 2020. Their disclosures alone totaled more than $350 million during the July 31, 2020 reporting period.

But the Association of American Universities said the department consistently failed to respond to repeated requests for clarity, transparency and guidelines. Some universities had previously acknowledged errors in reporting and sought to correct them. Yale said it failed to submit foreign funding reports for the years 2014 to 2017 but later corrected the omission. The report is “less a serious security assessment than it is a partisan and politically driven attack on America’s leading research universities,” the statement said.


U.S. Department of Education Uncovers Vast Underreporting of Foreign Gifts and Contracts by Higher Education Institutions — U.S. Department of Education – 10/21/2020
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos unveiled a report today detailing the massive failure of many colleges and universities to disclose more than $6.5 billion in funding and resources from foreign sources.

A crisis is looming for U.S. colleges — and not just because of the pandemic – NBC News – 8/4/2020
Now, with the added pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, the fabric of American higher education has become even more strained: The prospect of lower revenues has already forced some schools to slash budgets and could lead to waves of closings, experts and researchers say.

U.S. Universities Received Billions in Unreported Foreign Funds, Education Department Finds, Warning of ‘National Security Risk’ | National Review – National Review – 10/21/2020
The Department of Education on Tuesday warned that funding from foreign adversaries at U.S. universities could pose a risk to national security in a report detailing its year-long investigation that found a number of universities had not appropriately reported funding received from entities in China, Qatar, and Russia.

Ed Dept details colleges’ foreign financial ties in new report – Education Dive – 10/21/2020
In conjunction with Tuesday’s report, federal officials held an event during which they pledged to ensure colleges were open about their foreign gifts and deals. 


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