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House Republicans push for more investigations into higher ed’s ties to foreign money.

House Republicans push for more investigations into higher ed’s ties to foreign money.

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
July 13, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • House Republicans on Thursday accused the U.S. Department of Education, and the higher ed sector broadly, of failing to properly address foreign influence on college campuses.
  • During a hearing of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, GOP lawmakers questioned policy experts on how to handle and regulate foreign money — especially from China — in U.S. colleges.
  • Democrats during the hearing cautioned against fueling anti-Asian sentiments in the regulatory process and advocated for more guidance from the Education Department to help institutions comply with rules for reporting foreign donations and contracts.
Dive Insight:
Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires institutions to report foreign gifts and contracts worth $250,000 or more in a year. Under former President Donald Trump, the Education Department began to crack down on enforcement and opened investigations into higher ed’s involvement with foreign entities, primarily focusing on China. Many of those investigations remain open.
During Thursday’s hearing, Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, chair of the Republican-controlled subcommittee, criticized the Education Department for not opening further investigations since President Joe Biden took office, calling the agency’s current leadership feckless.
Owens also took aim at the Office of Federal Student Aid, which handles enforcement of Section 117, but said it was ill-suited to do so. FSA is already struggling to fulfill its responsibilities, as the agency works to unveil an improved version of the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
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