House Republicans were monitoring the investigation into the schools to determine of they were violating Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which prohibits an “Institution of Higher Learning” from failing to properly report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more, Town Hall reported.
In a letter from the department obtained by the website, General Counsel Reed Rubinstein said that while some colleges recognized that foreign cash from US adversaries could pose a security risk, others had become addicted to the money.
“Some IHE leaders are starting to acknowledge the threat of foreign academic espionage and have been working with federal law enforcement to address gaps in reporting and transparency,” the letter said.
“However, the evidence suggests massive investments of foreign money have bred dependency and distorted the decision making, mission, and values of too many institutions,” the letter continued.
“The Department shares Congress’ concerns regarding unreported and unregulated foreign direct investment into the US higher education system, and the potential for foreign sources to use strategic investments to turn American college campuses into indoctrination platforms,” the letter added, before acknowledging that they did not have all of the data they had requested because of legal challenges from schools questioning Congress’ right to obtain the data.
“Certain institutions have yet to produce requested emails, metadata, and other information regarding business relationships with, and faculty funding from, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Russian foreign sources. The Department is negotiating for this important information and hopes to have access to all relevant records in the near term,” the letter said.
The delays are partly because the schools are saying the Freedom of Information Act prevents the department from disclosing all of the information to Congress.
“The Department believes it may be constrained to withhold certain records from you that might otherwise be appropriately produced in a constitutionally mandated accommodation,” the education officials wrote in their letter to the GOP lawmakers.
While the Town Hall report does not mention a single school, The Wall Street Journal reported in February Harvard and Yale were under investigation as part of a review that found US universities failed to report at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding from countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.