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Effectively Addressing Security Concerns on Campus

Over the past year, federal intelligence, security, and science agencies, as well as Members of Congress, have expressed increasing concern regarding theft of intellectual property, breaches in scientific integrity, targeted cyberattacks, the participation of academic researchers in foreign talent recruitment programs, and other forms of foreign interference relating to research performed at U.S. universities. These concerns have stemmed from countries including, but not limited to, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

We know public research universities believe it is imperative to take these concerns seriously and to take proactive measures on campus. To assist universities in responding to these growing concerns, late last fall APLU and AAU conducted a survey to collect examples of effective policies, practices, tools, and resources that universities are using to ensure the security of research and to address ongoing and emerging foreign security threats. This week APLU and AAU shared some key practices emerging from the survey, including: conducting an inventory of current campus security-related activities; communicating with faculty about potential security threats and providing reminders of federal and university disclosure and export controls compliance requirements; and considering implementation of additional campus policies and practices to bolster security and mitigate risk.

In brief, suggested actions that universities are encouraged to take if they haven’t done so already include:

  • Sharing broadly steps that are already being taken or are underway to ensure the security of the research enterprise on campus;
  • Conveying to faculty the importance of fully and accurately disclosing conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment, including foreign affiliations and positions, foreign financial conflicts, and other financial support during grant application, award, and implementation processes;
  • Creating high-level, cross-campus working groups and task forces to bring together key faculty and staff stakeholders and facilitate additional university coordination; and
  • Bolstering activities in the areas of faculty and student training; review of foreign gifts, grants, and contracts; review of faculty foreign financial interests and affiliations; intellectual property protection; interactions with federal security and intelligence agencies; safeguards and protections for foreign travel; international visitors to campus; and export controls compliance.
  • Research, Science & Technology

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