President Biden and Foreign Influence in Higher Ed

David Acevedo

President Biden and his nascent cabinet face many important questions within the realm of higher education policy. One such question is: Will we continue to take seriously and mitigate the multitudinous threats of foreign influence in our colleges and universities, or will we backslide into our previous M.O. of blissful (and/or willful) ignorance? The Chinese Communist Party poses a particularly urgent threat, one which the Trump administration countered through the efforts of the Justice Department, State Department, Education Department, and more. Will Biden continue this trajectory?

In a new article for The Federalist, National Association of Scholars Senior Research Fellow Rachelle Peterson enumerates the specific dangers coming from the CCP, including the Thousand Talents Plan and Confucius Institutes, and offers to the Biden administration five recommendations for continued reforms. These include:

  1. Retain and build on the new information collection portal introduced by [former Education Secretary] DeVos to ensure that the public has access to the names of all foreign sources and donors.
  2. Complete the rulemaking procedure, currently underway, to allow the Department of Education to collect copies of contracts that colleges and universities sign with foreign sources. ...
  3. Continue the investigations into non-compliant universities. ...
  4. Lower the [foreign gift] disclosure threshold. ...
  5. Establish policies that help wean colleges off of foreign funding — such as drop-offs in funding for colleges and universities that receive large amounts of funding from authoritarian sources. 

We urge President Biden and his cabinet to continue the Trump administration’s efforts to counter foreign influence in higher ed. As Peterson writes, “Now is the time to demand accountability in America’s higher education institutions. Our national security depends on it.” Click here to read the full article.


David Acevedo is Communications & Research Associate at the National Association of Scholars.

Image: Adam Schultz, Public Domain

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