Education Department Investigating Foreign Influence at MIT, U-Maryland

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The U.S. Department of Education is investigating whether the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) properly reported contracts from foreign governments and IT-related companies.

In a letter to both universities, Education Department Acting General Counsel Reed Rubinstein explained that the agency has reason to believe the universities did not “fully capture all gifts, contracts, and/or restricted sources” to the schools or their affiliated entities.

Under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, schools are required to report to the Federal agency statutorily defined gifts from, and contracts with, foreign sources. When an institution fails to comply with this law, the agency can request that the Attorney General take enforcement action for compliance.

The Acting General Counsel is specifically interested in records pertaining to gifts and/or contracts from Chinese entities such as the People’s Republic of China, Huawei Technologies, and ZTE Corp., as well as entities from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The University of Maryland and MIT have 30 days to produce any and all records regarding “gifts, contracts, and/or restricted or conditional gifts or contracts from or with a foreign source.” The timeframe for these records date to as early as 2010.

Cybersecurity risks from foreign tech entities have been under the microscope recently as companies like Huawei and Kaspersky Labs face scrutiny in the Federal arena for potential homeland security risks.

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