This February was a bad month for university researchers. Hundreds
of UK academics are under suspicion of having violated export
controls — and a US Ivy League university agreed to pay a fine for
exporting pathogens without the correct licenses. In this QAD
Precision Report, we look at export controls for universities.
This February, academics on both sides of the Atlantic experienced a
wake-up call regarding the importance of export compliance.
On 2 February, the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of
Industry and Security (BIS) announced it has reached a settlement
with Princeton University. The university agreed to pay a
$54,000 fine for alleged violations of the Export Administration
BIS alleged that Princeton violated EAR when the university exported
strains and recombinants of animal pathogens to foreign academic
institutions. These pathogens require an export license, which
Princeton did not obtain.
In addition, BIS further alleged that the university had committed 37
violations of EAR. Princeton exported these goods to research
institutions in countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, the
United Kingdom, as well as a number of European countries, amongst
others. Most of these countries — with the exception of China — are
close US allies.
A far more serious breach may have taken place in the United Kingdom.
In early February, The Times reported that nearly 200
British academics are under investigation for violations of the
Export Control Order 2008.
Revenue and Customs is investigating the academics. It is
thought that these academics may have inadvertently helped China build
weapons of mass destruction.
The academics are under investigation for sharing sensitive research
in advanced military technology. This includes designs for aircraft,
missiles and cyberweapons. If found guilty, the academics could face
up to ten years in jail.
Most research conducted by US educational institutions is not subject
to export control regulations. This is due to the “Fundamental
Research Exclusion” (FRE). FRE applies to research that is published
and shared with the academic community.
However, FRE does not mean that all academic research is exempt from
export controls. Similar laws and regulations exist in the UK and the
European Union. Most
university research is exempt from export controls, especially
if it is basic science or has been published.
Governments put export controls in place for certain academic
disciplines. These include aerospace engineering, biological sciences,
chemistry, nuclear physics and so forth. Given the nature of these
disciplines, governments restrict access to this research due to
national security concerns.
Furthermore, governments also restrict items that have both civilian
and military applications —these are “dual use” goods.
Export controls do not only apply to physical items. Therefore, the
regulations forbid the sharing of certain kinds of data or know-how too.
One issue perhaps is a lack of clarity over what exactly an export
is. While most people understand that shipping an item overseas is an
export, the term is much broader.
An export can also refer to the electronic or telephonic transfer of
information. Similarly, providing access to a database or other
repository to a foreign national qualifies as export. Lastly, if you
bring information with you into a foreign country on your laptop, an
external drive or other means, that’s also an export.
In addition, academics in the US also have to abide by “deemed
export” regulations. Under these laws, academics (and others) may
not share sensitive technology or information with US-based foreign
nationals. Academics outside the US, working with a US partner, must
comply with deemed export rules as well.
Deemed export laws can be a particular challenge for universities.
Not only do universities have to comply with export controls when
working with international institutions, they must also comply with
deemed export rules. In many cases, students, post-doctoral
researchers, and faculty members may be foreign nationals.
In the case of Princeton, the university sent controlled physical
goods without the correct licenses. However, the UK academics are
alleged to have committed a very different kind of export control
violation — the sharing of information, not goods.
It is important for a university to undertake a risk assessment
vis-à-vis export regulations. A university that specializes in, for
example, the arts, is as a consequence, likely to have less risk than
one that undertakes biological research.
Secondly, it is important that the university clearly communicates
with faculty and students about their, and the institution’s
obligations, under the law.
Thirdly, educational institutions should consider supporting
university export control programs with technological solutions that
prevent missteps from occurring.
shipping solutions have many benefits for universities. These include:
Standardizing shipping across the institution
Allowing universities to leverage volume discounts
Cost center allocation to the correct grant, a research group or college
Generating compliant carrier label and all shipping documentation
Proof of delivery
Most importantly, desktop shipping solutions can include compliance
and license checks depending on the type of shipment, the ship-to
destination, and so forth. As a result, students and faculty will not
be able to ship goods until they have completed all necessary export
To find out how QAD Precision can help your educational institution,
please contact us here.
On Thursday 25 March 2021 at 3pm GMT /10am EST, QAD Precision is
hosting a 30-minute webinar on the importance of restricted party
screening. To register for the webinar, please click here.
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EDUCATION, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND EXPORT CONTROLS
IMPORTANCE OF COMPLIANCE WITH DEEMED EXPORT REGULATIONS
COMPLIANCE IS NOT ENOUGH: INTEGRATED SHIPPING SOLUTIONS FOR UNIVERSITIES