Harvard and Yale universities are under investigation by the U.S. Education Department for potentially failing to report gifts and contributions they received from countries including China and Saudi Arabia.
Yale may not have disclosed at least $375 million over the last four years and Harvard may lack appropriate controls to track money it receives, the department said in a statement today.
“This is about transparency,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom. Moreover, it’s what the law requires.”
The U.S. is seeking to collect more information on overseas money provided to colleges for grants or contracts and wants better reporting of that funding. Over the past year, it has become apparent that there is “widespread non-compliance across U.S. universities,” an Education Department spokesman told Bloomberg last week.
The agency sent letters to the universities dated yesterday requesting records related to gifts or contracts from a foreign source. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland previously received letters. The letters were posted on the Education Department’s website.
Harvard led all U.S. colleges in gifts and donations from China, according to a Bloomberg analysis of U.S. government data. Collectively, the schools received almost $1 billion from 2013 to June 2019. Harvard and Yale’s endowments are the biggest among U.S. private schools at about $41 billion and $30 billion, respectively.
Representatives for Harvard and Yale said the schools are reviewing the Education Department’s request and preparing a response.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the inquiry.