The Education Department opened an investigation into Harvard and Yale for allegedly failing to report at least $6.5 billion in funding it had solicited and received from countries that include China and Saudi Arabia.
The investigations are part of a larger conflict between American universities and a coalition of federal officials over concerns that the schools may be reliant on money from foreign countries which are hostile toward the U.S.
In a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Education said that universities in the U.S. are "multi-billion dollar, multi-national enterprises using opaque foundations, foreign campuses, and other sophisticated legal structures to generate revenue."
The department on February 11 requested documents from Harvard detailing gifts from or contracts with the governments of China, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. It also asked for records concerning Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. of China; the Kaspersky Lab and Skolkovo Foundation of Russia; and the Alavi Foundation of Iran, among others.