Foreign Nationals and National Security

All sponsored projects received by Michigan Technological University with national security restrictions on publication of results and/or participation by foreign nationals will be administered through the Keweenaw Research Center.

Fundamental Principles

  • Adherence to principles of academic freedom and commitment to the open exchange and publication of ideas is fundamental to the operation of a research university.
  • National security is dependent on research and may be compromised if the results of this research are made public.

These two fundamental principles are sometimes in conflict. Many federal agencies have begun to include more restrictive clauses in research contracts to protect national security. These often conflict with the first of these principles, particularly in regard to publication of research results and the participation of foreign nationals in research activities.

These conflicts are the subject of intense national debate that may extend for a considerable period of time before they are resolved. In the meantime, Michigan Tech and other universities are receiving award documents containing restrictive clauses. In the interim, while a national consensus develops, Michigan Tech will utilize the following guidelines when this situation arises.


When the Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) identifies clauses restricting publication or prohibiting/limiting participation by foreign nationals in research award documents, SPO will contact the Principal Investigator and unit administrator (department chair/school dean) to discuss the particular clauses, their impact on the project, and monitoring of compliance if the project is accepted. If a graduate student is involved, the dean of the Graduate School will be included. SPO will attempt to negotiate with the sponsor to develop mutually acceptable contractual terms. SPO, in conjunction with the PI and unit administrator(s), will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Research regarding acceptance of the award at the completion of the negotiation process. In this process, the following guidelines will be followed on a case-by-case basis:


  • In all cases, Michigan Tech will not accept projects unless both the PI and unit administrator(s) agree (in writing) to concur with this decision, and agree to comply and enforce compliance with all contract terms and conditions.

Publication Restrictions

  • Michigan Tech will not accept research funding supporting development of graduate student theses/dissertations when publication is prohibited or requires prior sponsor approval under any circumstance.
  • Michigan Tech will accept research funding when advance sponsor notification or limited-time sponsor review (generally less than 60 days) prior to publication is required for review of intellectual property.
  • Michigan Tech may consider accepting national security publication restrictions when these are immaterial to the conduct of the project or the thesis/dissertation of a student working on the project (such as testing or service projects).

Foreign National Restrictions

  • Michigan Tech may consider accepting restrictions on participation by foreign nationals for externally funded research projects when these restrictions are immaterial to the conduct of the project. This determination is to rely heavily on the recommendations of the PI and unit administrator(s).
  • Michigan Tech will not accept restrictions on participation of foreign nationals for undergraduate classes offered as part of regular options in the Michigan Tech catalog (including Senior Design and Enterprise, which are sometimes funded by external donors).
  • Compliance with these guidelines is the responsibility of the PI and the course instructor.