$1.3 Billion in Unreported Foreign Donations to U.S. Universities

Students throw their mortarboards in the air during their graduation photograph at the University of Birmingham degree congregations on July 14, 2009 in Birmingham, England
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A U.S. Education Department investigation has initially revealed $1.3 billion in unreported donations to U.S. universities from foreign countries such as China, Russia, and Qatar.

The department says the unreported foreign funds discovered thus far are only a small portion of the donations from foreign countries that are pouring into U.S. campuses.

“We’re going to continue to raise the flag on this, and we think, just given what we’ve seen scratching the surface, there’s a lot there that has gone undetected,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a report at the Washington Examiner.

“We’re raising this issue and letting schools know that we’re going to be paying attention in ways that hasn’t happened before,” DeVos added, citing a national security issue.

The investigation came after Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released in February an initial bipartisan report that pointedly sounded a warning about the influence of foreign funds and the Chinese government throughout U.S. K-12 classrooms and on up to university campuses.

“[T]he Department of Education does not conduct regular oversight of U.S. schools’ compliance with required foreign gift reporting,” the report noted, and ultimately led the U.S. Education Department to remind universities of the requirement to report foreign funding.

The Senate subcommittee’s final report, released in November, specifically observed the role of China’s Thousand Talents Plan (TTP), a talent recruitment program that was launched in 2008 and is operated by the Chinese Communist Party.

“The TTP targets U.S.-based researchers and scientists, regardless of ethnicity or citizenship, who focus on or have access to cutting-edge research and technology,” the report noted. “In response to U.S. government scrutiny, China has attempted to delete online references to its talent recruitment plans and reportedly instructed Chinese institutions on how to avoid additional U.S. scrutiny.”

The education department’s investigations began in June with probes into foreign funding at Georgetown and Texas A&M, reported the Associated Press. At that time, letters were sent to the schools, accusing them of unreported “gifts and contracts tied to their branch campuses in Qatar,” the report noted and added:

Federal law requires colleges to report gifts or contracts with any foreign source amounting to $250,000 or more in a year. Some lawmakers say the Education Department has done too little to enforce the rule.

In September, the watchdog group known as the Clarion Project, reported more than ten billion dollars flowing onto American campuses from foreign countries, even those adversarial to the U.S., since 2012.

Penny Starr at Breitbart News reported in an interview with Ryan Mauro, director of intelligence with the Clarion Project:

Qatar – which, according to the U.S. State Department, has made gains in fighting terrorism but still hosts entities that sponsor and support terrorism – is at the top of the list with a staggering $1.4 billion dollars given to 28 universities, including $350,874,324 to Georgetown and $376,325,840 to Carnegie Mellon University.

“These numbers are hard to fathom, but they are likely only the tip of the iceberg,” Mauro said. “There are two other figures we don’t have: The amount that the schools aren’t disclosing to the Education Department as required and the amount funneled by foreign entities using fronts.”

“For example, the Iranian regime used a front named the Alavi Foundation to funnel money to universities,” Mauro told Breitbart News. “Because that’s a U.S.-based organization, those amounts from Iran are not in the records.”

“Muslim Brotherhood fronts with ties to terrorism, such as the International Institute of Islamic Thought, are also able to donate to universities without the transfers showing up in these Education Department records,” Mauro said.

According to the Examiner, Reed Rubinstein, U.S. Education Department acting general counsel, sent a letter to the Senate subcommittee containing “disturbing facts” in the investigation into Georgetown and Texas A&M and also into Cornell, Rutgers, University of Maryland, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In particular, Rubinstein observed China’s influence on U.S. campuses.

“One university received research funding from a Chinese multinational conglomerate to develop new algorithms and advance biometric security techniques for crowd surveillance capabilities,” Rubinstein said.



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