Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Export Controls at a University

Below are some of the questions we have received about export controls at a university.

Q: Why is export controls a concern at universities?
A: Good question since universities are not normally in the business of exporting products. However, universities are regularly collaborating with government and industry on export controlled technologies. Logic stands that if you can’t export a product to a foreign country without a license, then you can’t teach a foreign national from that country how the product was designed, manufactured, or “used.”


Q: I spoke to other institutions who claim that the Fundamental Research Exclusion covers any university export control concerns. Is this true?
A: No. The Fundamental Research Exclusion is a powerful exclusion when ALL conditions of the exclusion can be met. However, it only covers fundamental research RESULTS. It does not cover preexisting data (e.g., 3rd party proprietary information), technologies used in the course of fundamental research (e.g., night vision scopes in the study of lightning), and other categories of technology (e.g., encryption). Additionally, collaboration with foreign nationals of sanctioned countries may be prohibited regardless of the Fundamental Research Exclusion.


Q: Does my institution need a full-time export controls officers?
A: It depends on your institution. Some of our members work in Export Control Offices that staff 4 full-time positions. The following institutions would inherently require more export control attention:

  • Research institutions
  • Globally expanding institutions
  • Institutions which large numbers of foreign nationals
  • Institutions using cutting-edge technology