Foreign Influence on Research Integrity

Inappropriate foreign influence on university research is a legitimate, non-partisan, and growing concern. Federal funding agencies have issued new requirements and guidance, federal law enforcement agencies have increased prosecutorial activity, and Congress has signed new legislation and sought information on how the academic research community is responding to this evolving issue.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s goal is safeguarding research from threatening foreign government influence as well as ensuring that our research environment is welcoming to all individuals and empowering them to work in a safe and inclusive manner with the highest ethical standards.

Our Philosophy

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign enrolls just over 50,000 students and employs approximately 1,900 tenure-track faculty. Annually, we have around $675M in annual research expenditures. Nearly 20 percent of our students are from outside the United States, and we are perpetually among the top public universities in the nation in international enrollment. We have representation from more than 100 nations on our campus, including more than 5,000 students from China. Our faculty is international in origin, and we have significant alumni representation on the faculties of major universities in India, Taiwan, and mainland China.

We are proud of our reputation as a top-tier, public, globally engaged research university. Our faculty are among the best in the world at establishing new educational and scholarly partnerships. At Illinois, we believe being a 21st-century land-grant university means we must be an international university.

Today’s society is global and interconnected. Information and knowledge have become forces of change and prosperity, and they are not hindered by geographic borders or lines on maps. But they are also the source of competitive advantage.

For all of us in higher education, this accelerated flow of knowledge and communication has vastly increased our capacity. It has made it easier and faster to build networks that can bring together a whole new world of ideas and expertise to solve global challenges. However, we must balance our commitment to open exchange with our responsibilities to comply with regulations that bolster security and mitigate risk.

Managing Foreign Influence

Foreign Influence can take many forms and occur at any step of research. The first step in combatting foreign influence is to verify that the university is not conducting transactions with those parties that have been flagged as parties of concern. All transactions involving non-U.S. entities (persons, companies, institutions, universities, government agencies) should be screened against government lists to ensure that the university is complying with regulations.

All appropriate university personnel should disclose outside affiliations before entering into any contract or agreement. Conflicts of interest or time may need management plans and membership to a Foreign Government Recruiting Program may need disclosure to the sponsor of research projects.

Review the university’s Management of Foreign Influence Matrix below which shows areas of concern and options we may have of mitigating risk.

Managing Foreign Influence Decision Matrix (PDF)