In a press release from 22 June 2020, the Department of Education (DOE) said that it was unveiling an enhanced online portal for higher education institutions to report foreign gifts and contracts valued at more than $250,000, as a result of uncovering that they had found “billions of dollars in unreported funds from foreign sources” to U.S. institutions of higher education.
The U.S. secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, unveiled the portal and said it will make is easier for schools to report foreign gifts and contracts (valued at more than $250,000). Further, she stated that “this is part of the Departments’s ongoing efforts to help higher education institutions come into compliance with Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.”
The release said that from “numerous reports, and the Department’s own research” they have uncovered billions of dollars that have gone unreported.
“Colleges and universities owe it to all of us to be transparent about their foreign financial ties,” said Secretary DeVos. “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.”Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, 22 June 2020 DOE press release
At present, DOE says it does not have “sufficient information” to determine compliance with Section 117 provisions. The new portal requires institutions to provide more information about their foreign financial ties.
Further, under DeVos’ leadership, DOE’s Office of the General Counsel is “spearheading Section 117 foreign source compliance and verification efforts, including ongoing investigations into ten U.S. institutions of higher education.” DOE has uncovered numerous university contracts with Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-subsidized companies and at least one institution has multiple direct contracts with the CCP.
Since July 2019, American institutions have reported $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign gifts and contracts. Institutions have anonymized the identities of the donors of at least $1.14 billion in funds from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, 22 June 2020 DOE press release