Leading U.S. Universities Oppose State Department Rule Restricting Foreign Students From Participating In Research Projects!By Vinay Patel, UniversityHerald Reporter
Top U.S. universities are forcing out a proposed State Department rule that would ban foreign students from more research classes and projects comprising information considered as crucial top national security.
This proposal by the administration of President Obama comes in the wake of growing concerns in Washington over an increase in intellectual property stealing from foreign antagonist like China. This rule which is still in the proposal process and has not been extensively noted will specifically affect research linked with defense technology including satellite technology, nuclear engineering, and munitions.
U.S. colleges have recently gained huge popularity among foreign students who are willing to pay high fees, however the new rule which mostly affect company-sponsored research pose a threat by shrinking the pool of research opportunities available for colleges in the U.S.
Many leading U.S. school decline research grants that curb participation by foreign citizens as it conflicts with their policies of non-discrimination and academic freedom, according to reports by Reuters.
In a letter to the State Department, Stanford University confirmed that it joined forces with the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Association of American Universities (AAU) to oppose the new rule, citing devastating results. Aside from the University of Chicago, Duke University, and Harvard, AAU represents 62 other top research institutions.
According to the universities, the rule will jeopardize academic freedom by tipping the balance too far in favor of national security.
Stanford's director of export compliance Steve Eisner noted that with the implementation of this rule, the university will not be able to perform the same fundamental research that they do. Stanford has a policy that indicate researches have to be conducted openly regardless of citizenship.
"We're not going to tell our Chinese students that they can't participate," Eisner added.
According to a 2011 FBI report, foreign foes and competitors take advantage of the easy access to information on college campuses and some of the students, researchers as well as foreign professors are actually working on instructions of other government, reports Daily Hunt.
The Institute of International Education noted that during 2014-2015 school year, there were about 1 million foreign students at U.S. colleges, a large number (31 percent) of whom were Chinese. That has increased from less than 100,000 in the 1960s when U.S. initiated regulating their access to research.
Last year, there was a hike of 53 percent from 2014 in the number of intellectual property cases the FBI investigated. According to the FBI, China is the guilty party. The FBI even claimed that Chinese nationals have attempted to export technology from the U.S., such as crucial military information saved on Boeing computers, and genetically modified corn seed.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that China's developments in the fields of science and technology have been possible through the hard work of the Chinese people, and suggested that U.S. should focus on improving cooperation with China rather than restricting foreign students.
The proposed rule stems from declining federal funding for research, forcing many to depend more on industry-sponsored projects.
State Department officials confirmed that they are fully aware of universities' disapproval as far as the rule is concerned, however noted that they have neither received complaints nor suggestion from companies that fund university research.