Through a Freedom of Information Act, pictured below, Pi Newspaper can reveal that University College London received over half a million pounds in funding from private arms companies and governmental funding via the Department of Defense between 2008 and 2011.
The request asked to see “the amount of funding/income University College London received through military institutions”. The response to the application stated that the funding amounted to £539,264 over a three-year period. It is clear that UCL could not confirm all the funding as Freedom of Information Acts prevent releasing information that have the potential to affect an institution’s corporate interests. Without this information, it would appear that this is the minimum UCL receives from arms companies.
Obtaining the information from UCL, however, was with difficulties. Pi Newspaper is still awaiting an exact breakdown regarding where exactly each monetary payment derived from. The last response from Jon Tomkinson of UCL’s legal services was received on the 28th September.
Among the private companies Pi Newspaper asked to see the amount of funding from was BAE systems, a British Aerospace and Defense company, which is one of the biggest suppliers in the international arms trade.
On October 11th, a small number of students protested against the presence of BAE systems recruitment team on the UCL campus during the Engineering Careers fair. Protesters were attempting to dissuade students from conversing with the company over its lucrative internships, by informing students of its violations to human rights internationally. Despite the presence of the protest, many students approached the company for graduate schemes and career prospects.
Campaign Against Arms Trade, an organization in the UK committed to end the international arms trade, suggests on its website that BAE systems was recently involved in a notorious deal concerning the sale of 200 Tactica armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The organization added, “These vehicles were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011.”
Just recently, Dina Rickman of the Huffington Post submitted FOI’s to 24 of the UK’s leading universities requesting to see the amount of military funding the institutions had received. The information revealed that some of the top UK universities had received funding amounting to £83 million from the arms industry between 2008 and 2011. The Russell Group responded, describing the funding as “appropriate”. UCL had originally been unable to produce information to contribute to the report.
Among those universities with the highest amount of funding were Imperial College London with £15.2 million, Sheffield with £13.8 million and Cambridge with £13.8 million.
The figures come amid fears that cash-starved institutions are helping to promote the manufacturing of weapons by being involved in the controversial funding.
In 2008, UCL stopped its investment into the arms industry, amidst a mass student protest against lucrative investments the institution formally held. Grant suggested at the time that the university was “taking onboard student concerns.”
Professor Grant discussed the impending issue with students after a release of a 2006 report from CAAT, showing that UCL had £1.5 million in arms shares at the time. The report also stated that UK universities, collectively, held more than £15 million in shares in companies involved in the arms trade.
Despite this successive effort on behalf of the study body in preventing UCL’s investment into these industries, UCL still continues to receive funding from the companies it once held shares in.
In a recent exclusive interview with Professor Malcolm Grant, Provost of UCL, he responded to these figures suggesting that it is indeed likely that UCL receives funding from the Department of Defense and private companies. “After all,” he said, “UCL has just graduated its first batch of students in the new counter-terrorism degree.” He continued suggesting that if the security of the country were indeed at threat, then investment into preventivestrategies and defensive measures would be “necessary”.