The Department of Education this week launched a new online reporting system that will require colleges to disclose far more information about gifts and contracts coming from foreign sources than they have in the past. Colleges are required under the Higher Education Act to report foreign gifts and contracts valued at $250,000 or more. The department says it is not currently receiving sufficient information to determine institutions’ compliance with the law.
Institutions will now be required to submit more information “about each reportable transaction involving a foreign source, such as whether the foreign source is a foreign government, a foreign legal entity, an individual who is not a citizen or national of the United States, or a person acting as an agent of a foreign source,” according to a press release from the Education Department.
The American Council on Education previously wrote to the department to express concerns about the expanded scope of information collection, and ACE separately urged the department to delay implementing expanded reporting requirements until after the COVID-19 public health emergency has passed. More than 30 higher education associations signed on to those letters.
The next reporting deadline for colleges is July 31. “It’s not a lot of time, especially with campuses being closed in the midst of COVID, to launch this new reporting model,” said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at ACE.
The Education Department has opened investigations into at least eight universities’ compliance with foreign gift and contract reporting requirements. The department says the investigations have resulted in the disclosure of $6.5 billion in previously undisclosed foreign gifts and contracts since last July.