Florida Senate cracks down on foreign influence in higher education, establishes collaboration, gift-receiving guidelines

by | Apr 27, 2023


  • The Florida Senate cleared a bill that prohibits state-funded colleges and universities from accepting grants or establishing collaborations with educational institutions from recognized countries of concern.
  • The legislation also prohibits state universities, colleges, and their employees from accepting gifts from a college or university based in a foreign country of concern.
  • The state Board Of Governors Office of Inspector General and Director of Compliance reports a total of 689 foreign gift disclosures from eight state universities during Fiscal Year 2020-21, amounting to $116.6 million.
  • Foreign countries of concern include China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria.

The Florida Senate passed a bill without opposition this week aimed at curbing foreign influence on state universities and colleges.

Senate Bill 7014, brought forth by Sen. Bryan Avila, prohibits state-funded colleges and universities from accepting grants or establishing collaborative arrangements with educational institutions in recognized countries of concern unless explicit requirements are fulfilled. The legislation further grants the state power to withhold performance funding from state universities that enter into unauthorized partnerships or agreements.

According to state statute, the list of foreign countries of concern includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria

The bill also prohibits state universities, state colleges, and their employees and representatives, from soliciting or accepting any gift in their official capacities from a college or university based in a foreign country of concern.

The state Board Of Governors Office of Inspector General and Director of Compliance reports a total of 689 foreign gift disclosures from eight state universities during Fiscal Year 2020-21, amounting to $116.6 million.

As explained on the Senate floor, the term “gift” is used as a wide-ranging blanket term to account for service contracts, student exchange sponsorships, and traditional material offerings.

“Of these gifts, 579 were contracts, 26 were gifts, and 84 were student sponsorships,” said Avila. “Of which, 21 of the foreign gifts were from foreign countries of concern. Approximately 19 from China and 2 from Russia.”

In 2020, the Florida House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions conducted a review of Florida’s university-based research programs after it was discovered that the CEO of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and three research scientists failed to disclose support from relationships with Chinese research programs. The Select Committee found that Florida state research grants lacked certain requirements deemed necessary to ensure research integrity.

Following the investigation, the committee concluded that programs like sister city initiatives, academic language and culture centers, foreign funding of domestic institutions, and foreign-influenced employment of domestic scientists and engineers are means to influence domestic policy, advance hostile foreign interests, and limit academic freedom.

1 Comment

  1. dmmorrison

    We can’t have our universities in contact with the outside world.

%d bloggers like this: