Demilitarise Education, which showed UofG’s increasing investments in the arms trade since 2019, has launched a national petition demanding UK universities cut their ties to the industry.
An investigation by Demilitarise Education (DEd) has revealed that Glasgow University has increased its investments in the arms trade since 2019. From the period of 2020-21, the University held shares in 23 arms companies, worth almost £3.2m in total. Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) claims that the current 22-23 total is now more than £6.8m. They have also received around £600,000 in research funding from BAE systems and Rolls Royce since 2017.
The DEd report states that the largest investments are into BAE systems and QinetiQ, in which the University holds £524,382 and £523,994 respectively. Investigations into BAE systems have revealed the company has sold £17.6bn worth of aircraft, weaponry, and services to the Saudi government since 2017, for which they have been accused of being party to war crimes for their use in Yemen. A war which has decimated the country and resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with 80% of the population, or 24.1m people, in need of humanitarian aid and protection.
BAE systems supply the Saudi government their Typhoon fighter aircrafts which have been used to target infrastructure. This has hindered the transport of goods and vital supplies to civilians in Yemen. Typhoon aircrafts are also used in ‘double tap’ attacks, in which a preliminary attack is aimed at rebels and a second strike on those who come to their rescue.
Additionally, QinetiQ, a supplier of military robotics, has been criticised for their active export of arms to Israel and involvement in the British Army Watchkeeper Programme which allegedly tested the drones on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Other companies that the University invests in, such as, Rolls Royce and Honeywell have been forced to pay hundreds of millions for their use of bribes in arms and oil deals. Major lawsuits for toxic pollutant contamination and environmental devastation have also been brought against Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Students have organised many protests against Glasgow University’s funding and relationship with arms companies under the GUADC which brought together six student societies to pressure the University to fully divest from arms companies. A petition was presented to the University court which was rejected. A new group, called Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil (GAAF) appear to be taking up where the GUADC left off, it remains to be seen where they will take the campaign.
When approached for comment GAAF stated: “It’s outrageous the university continues to put profits ahead of human rights by investing in companies causing humanitarian crises. The fact that investments have doubled since 2019 shows us that now more than ever we, as students, must organise and pressure the university to cut ties with these barbaric companies”.
Opposition to the arms trade extends to the former University rector, Ammer Anwar, who stated that Glasgow should “divest immediately from any company accused of complicity in war, misery & death”.
Demilitarise Education have launched a national petition calling on UK universities to cut all ties to the arms industry, end any research and careers partnerships, fully divest from the arms trade, and to instead sponsor sustainable, peaceful innovation. They also invited students to leave a message to Principal Sir Anton Muscatelli.
An investigation by The Glasgow Guardian in 2019 revealed the University of Glasgow investing over £3m in the arms trade and military service providers. At that time, a spokesperson for the institution stated: “The University of Glasgow is committed to socially responsible investment, with a clear ethical investment policy published on our website along with a list of our investments. Many of the companies listed in the source provided are involved in a variety of industries and derive only a small proportion of income from areas that are defence related.”