Duty to disclose overseas gifts and contracts

An amendment has been tabled to the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill which, if passed, would require institutions on the Register of Higher Education Institutions to go back 10 years and provide details of ‘disclosable arrangements’ with ‘overseas counterparties’.

Disclosable arrangements are defined in the amendment as formal or informal contracts, gifts or other arrangements by which a financial advantage of £50k or more is offered, given or promised to a registered English Higher Education Provider.

The amendment proposes that each registered provider discloses to the Office for Students and the Secretary of State by 30 April 2023 a list of such arrangements going back 10 years. The OfS would then be expected to publish that list and keep it updated each year.

The explanatory statement for the amendment is to “introduce transparency and public reporting of foreign donations to universities, in order to promote freedom of speech and academic freedom, and to increase public confidence in universities.”

It remains to be seen whether this amendment is supported by the Government and whether it is passed during the Report Stage of the Bill in the House of Commons.

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