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Academic Alliance

Academic Alliance
Working Together to Protect the Nation


Students at college campus with scientist holding beakerHow could terrorists, spies, and criminals threaten national security by taking advantage of the openness and activities of U.S. universities?

Consider the possibilities:

- Foreign spies—posing as international students or visitors—trying to steal sensitive and classified university research and to undermine technology export policies and controls;

- Terrorists and criminals studying advanced technologies and scientific breakthroughs on campus to use against the U.S.;

- Violent extremists using student visas to slip into the country undetected; and

- Hackers attacking college computer networks and possibly stealing secrets, research, and identities.

And on the brighter side: think about universities developing research, course work, internships, undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and faculty consulting opportunities that could strengthen the technology and talent pool available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI.

But the question is, how can these security issues be addressed while preserving the collegiate traditions of openness and academic freedom that lead to the creation of much of the country’s intellectual property?

Our answer? A new “Academic Alliance,” two vital, interrelated partnerships between universities and the FBI:

  • The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a 17-member panel that includes presidents from top public and private research schools. The board, which came together for the first time last fall and will meet approximately three times a year, provides a forum for FBI leadership and university presidents to discuss national security issues of mutual concern. We’re also inviting board members to meet with their local FBI offices to discuss issues specific to their areas.
  • The College and University Security Effort—or CAUSE . Through CAUSE, FBI Special Agents in Charge meet with the heads of local colleges to discuss national security issues and to share information and ideas. These discussions include the national security implications that these world-renowned research facilities may be facing; we help by explaining how and why some foreign governments may be attempting to pry loose their research and intellectual property creations.

What are we already gaining from this alliance? Increased communication and understandings on both sides of the table. All of which is helping universities to take proactive steps to better protect their institutions and the FBI to develop new strategies to keep Americans safe while remaining sensitive to unique concerns and cultures on campus.

Resources: National Security Higher Education Advisory Board 2/13/06 press release | National Security Higher Education Advisory Board 09/15/05 press release | FBI Counterintelligence webpage