Leeds University has received nearly £1m from companies involved in the arms trade.
On the back of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request the University was asked to provide information about the amount of money they received from military institutions. The response indicated that the University had received £876,418 from three companies since 2009.
Among the companies who provided the funding was British Aerospace and Defence. BAE has been accused of helping Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe buy fighter jets and providing equipment and weaponry to states which oppressed their people during the Arab Spring. BAE has also been fined hundreds of millions of pounds over allegations of bribery and corruption.
A University spokesperson denied that these figures were donations: “The sums in question are income received for specific research projects carried out for the companies concerned.”
When asked by Leeds Student what these research projects entailed, the University responded: “BAE Systems is funding research to develop a green fibre laser that is cheap, tuneable, with an output power of several Watts.”
The spokesperson added, “the University does, of course, have an ethics policy governing its research activities.”
In total, Leeds received £97,241 from BAE, £731,784 from Rolls Royce, the world’s second largest provider of defence aero-engine products, and £47.383 from the European Aeronautical Defence and Space company (EADS).
On its website, BAE systems state that they are involved in producing a number of “weapons” including “armoured fighting vehicles”, “artillery systems”, and “ammunition”, with the aim to provide “a winning edge”.
One fourth-year English student told this paper: “I understand that this money may go towards furthering students’ work here, but it also has the very real potential to endanger others, through BAE’s ongoing complicity in the oppression of the Bahraini and Palestinian peoples, to name but two. If the University wants this money, it should seek it elsewhere.”
The FOI request was submitted by the pressure group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), who work to end international arms trade. On their website they claim that international arms trade is having a “devastating impact on human rights and security, and damages economic development. Large scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems”.
The group sent FOI requests to all 24 Russell Group universities, with 18 institutions responding, including the University of Leeds.
Of the 18 universities that responded, the highest amount of funding went to Imperial College London with £15.2m.
Whilst it appears Leeds does not receive as much cash as other universities, the University did acknowledge that there was further funding received that was not disclosed, due to confidentiality clauses with the clients.
This revelation comes after Leeds Student’s coverage of funds received by the University from other questionable sources, including the alleged paedophile Jimmy Savile, and the serial tax-avoider Lord Laidlaw. This paper will continue to question where and from whom the University receives money.
Words: James Greenhalgh, Lucy Snow
Photo: Leo Garbutt