Harvard, Yale Investigated for Undisclosed Foreign Funding

14 Février, 2020, 02:58 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • An illustration of a gateway at Yale University

The US has launched investigations into Harvard and Yale universities over suspicions they received undisclosed funds from foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia and China.

In a similar letter to Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, Rubinstein said the Education Department was "aware of information suggesting Harvard University lacks appropriate institutional controls".

Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university is reviewing the letter and preparing a response.

USA universities have generally defended their global collaborations and said the Education Department's reporting requirements remain unclear, which officials deny.

"If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom". Though the statute is decades old, the department only recently began to vigorously enforce it.

Department officials accused the schools of actively soliciting money from foreign governments, companies and nationals, who are known to be hostile to the US and potentially seeking to steal research secrets and 'spread propaganda benefiting foreign governments, ' according to a document reported by the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the probe. The Education Department claims that American universities and colleges may have failed to disclose as much as $6.5 billion in foreign funding.

Two weeks ago, Charles Lieber, the chair of Harvard University's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and two Chinese nationals who were researchers at Boston University and a Boston hospital, were charged by the US Justice Department with lying about their alleged links to the Chinese government.

The department requested records of gifts from foreign sources, including from the People's Republic of China, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Kaspersky Lab, the governments of Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, as well as other entities connected to those governments.

The letter also asked for any records for such deals with Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, and Kaspersky Lab and Skolkovo Foundation of Russian Federation.

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The Department of Education said Yale failed to disclosed a total of $375 million in foreign money and that it was concerned that Harvard may not have fully complied with reporting requirements.

In February of past year, a Senate report described China's influence on the USA education system as "effectively a black hole", because universities were failing to report foreign money.

In an email to NPR, Yale spokesperson Karen Peart said that the university had "received a Department of Education request for records of certain gifts and contracts from foreign sources".

The push for funding disclosure is being driven by concerns about foreign efforts to exploit American academia. The plan seeks to attract foreign-educated scientists to China.

Some university officials have dismissed the USA government's broader national security concerns regarding foreign involvement in universities as hyperbolic, or even discriminatory, and said there should be no restrictions on unclassified research meant to be published anyway.

"We are pleased that the Department of Education is increasing enforcement efforts and taking a step toward ensuring academic freedom in America".

The civil investigations, revealed in letters to the schools on Tuesday (Wednesday New Zealand time), echo others the department has opened in recent months related to foreign gifts and contracts at Georgetown, Texas A&M, Cornell and Rutgers universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland.

A spokeswoman for MIT said the university's reporting of foreign gifts and contracts has been based on "improved processes" since January 2019 and that it is committed to working constructively with federal officials.

A Harvard official did not return Fox News' request for comment.

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