Marco Rubio: Time to Shine a Light on Hostile Nations Funding American Higher Education

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the “Greater Insight into Foreign Transactions (GIFTs) in Higher Education Act.”

The proposal would “target gifts and donations from designated foreign adversaries to American colleges and universities” and “would also hold institutions of higher education and the U.S. Department of Education more accountable to reporting requirements under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), which governs reporting of foreign gifts.”

Rubio’s proposal would include China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Venezuela as hostile foreign powers.

“Hostile foreign adversaries, including the Chinese Communist Party, routinely seek to infiltrate our higher education institutions to steal our research and exploit our intellectual property,” Rubio said this week. “There is absolutely no reason that bad actors should be able to run these foreign influence operations that seek to undermine America. We need to bring greater transparency to donations from foreign adversaries and hold our institutions and the Department of Education more accountable to reporting these transactions in a timely manner.”

U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, is co-sponsoring the proposal.

“If a university accepts foreign money or gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know,” Cramer said. “Our bill would improve oversight of foreign funding in higher education by holding universities accountable to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent.”

Rubio’s bill would expend disclosures under HEA Section 117 and would have colleges and universities report all donations of $50,000 or more within 30 days. The bill would also have the U.S. Education Department release information on foreign donations to colleges and universities within 30 days of being notified by the schools.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. So far, there is no counterpart in the U.S. House.

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Kevin Derby
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