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Education Department Probes University of Maryland Over Foreign Gifts

The US Department of Education is expanding its investigation into foreign gifts received by higher education institutions in the country.

According to The Washington Post, the Education Department wrote a letter to the University of Maryland President, Wallace D. Loh, last week expressing concerns over its reporting of foreign gifts and contracts.

The letter particularly focused on gifts originating from China, Qatar, Russia and asked the university to provide all the records pertaining to such gifts.

Lately, the Trump administration has been alarmed by China’s influence on higher education institutes across the country after a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that the Chinese government spent more than $150 million on the institutes over the last decade to limit criticism of its political policies in America.

It also found that Chinese institutes were threatening academic freedom by having access to the American educational system.

The university has said that they recently came to know about the discrepancies in reporting its revenue and have already filled in the gaps.

“Once the university learned that we were not reporting this information, we worked quickly to come into compliance,” spokeswoman Katie Lawson told The Washington Post.

“We join other universities in addressing this issue. We have been in compliance since January 2019, which was the next reporting deadline after we discovered we were not in compliance. We plan to work with federal officials in a transparent and timely manner to fully resolve these issues.”

Currently, the federal government is investigating Cornell University, Rutgers University, Georgetown University and Texas A&M University for potentially concealing foreign gifts.

Georgetown and Texas A&M have been accused of receiving foreign funds from Gulf nations, including a Russian cybersecurity company, the Kaspersky Lab. While Cornell and Rutgers have been accused of receiving foreign funds, particularly from China and Qatar, and not disclosing them to the Education Department.

In May, Emory University fired two of its professors for failing to disclose funding from and ties to Chinese institutions. The school shut down its laboratory after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) flagged their financial ties with Chinese institutions. The university also asked four postdoctoral students working in the lab to leave the country within 30 days.

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