The National Association of Scholars is pleased to see the reintroduction of the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Rob Portman. This bill would strengthen transparency requirements for colleges and universities receiving donations from foreign sources and would require organizations such as Confucius Institutes to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
For the last three years, the National Association of Scholars has raised alarms about perverse foreign influence in higher education, particularly by way of Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes. Our 2017 report, Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education, found that 100 American colleges and universities had stifled academic freedom by setting up Confucius Institutes funded and overseen by a Chinese government agency. Last year a report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Portman, confirmed many of our concerns. Since we first raised the alarm, we have seen more than 30 universities cut ties with their Confucius Institutes.
NAS has urged the federal government to require greater transparency from colleges and universities that accept funding and gifts from foreign sources. We are pleased that Senators Rubio, Cotton, and Portman have introduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, which would provide a major improvement to existing transparency laws.