Glasgow University to consider ending ties with arms companies

The institution's governing body will consider a Divestment Report commissioned in the wake of student protests.

The University of Glasgow’s governing body will consider a report on divesting from the arms trade on Tuesday.

The Court will meet after more than 300 staff – from both academic and professional services and working in all four of the university’s colleges – signed an open letter claiming the institution is complicit in investing in and sustaining “companies whose weapons [are currently] effecting destruction on Palestinian civilians”.

Among members of the Court are the Palestinian rector of the university, Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah.

The meeting will discuss a Divestment Report and recommendation by a working group prompted by the Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF) student occupation of January 2024.

The working group set up by the university’s governing body has been meeting with stakeholders over several months, including GAAF and other staff and student groups, and will make a recommendation about whether to divest an estimated £5m of its investment portfolio held in arms and related companies.

The working group has investigated what arms divestment might mean and the repercussions, risks, and impacts on the university. 

Student groups have also called upon the university to “continue leading by example and align its financial practices with its commitment to ethical responsibility and social justice, following an unwavering call from the student body to fulfil this urgent moral obligation”.

The open letter noted at the university may be in “violation of its own rules as well as laws on investment and procurement by continuing to invest in weapons companies whose products have been implicated in the deaths of multitudes of men, women and children in Gaza”.

A University spokesperson said: “The University of Glasgow was the first HE institution – and still one of only a few – to call for the immediate release of all hostages and a humanitarian ceasefire.

“Following a petition last semester, the University set up a working group chaired by a lay member of Court (the University’s governing body) to consider the issue of divestment in the defence sector and related matters.

“This group has reported to Court, which is expected to make an announcement this month.

“Working with institutions in the Middle East, we are actively considering what more we can do to support those affected by the conflict.”

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