New figures have revealed the extent of the University of Edinburgh’s investment in arms companies.
A freedom of information request by the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland showed that the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Robert Gordon invested almost £3 million in companies linked to the arms trade.
Vice President of Communities for NUS Scotland, Kirsty Haigh, said that these investments were “shameful”.
Haigh stated: “Our institutions should be working to benefit not just their campuses, but wider society as well and we should expect more from them.
“At the moment, many of them either don’t know or don’t care what companies their investments are supporting.”
Sam Robinson, Universities Coordinator at Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told The Student that “universities should be making a positive contribution to the world, not profiting from an industry that thrives on insecurity and conflict. These institutions should immediately divest from arms companies and establish an ethical investments policy.”
CAAT lobbies for universities to discontinue investment in arms companies, focusing on ethical investments instead.
The campaigners claim that: “Many UK universities invest in arms companies, often without the knowledge of their students, staff and beneficiaries.”
The University of Edinburgh, which is already under pressure from divestment groups pushing for a withdrawal from fossil fuel companies, has pledged to hold an arms review group in the summer.
A spokesman for the university said: “An Armaments Review Group will be established to review questions around investments in armaments companies.
“Just like the Fossil Fuels Review Group, this group will include representation from academic schools, support groups and the students’ association.”
Meanwhile BAE systems has disclosed a rise in profits (from £806 million in 2013 to £1.3 billion) despite facing a decline in defence spending by the American and British governments, its two biggest customers.
It remains to be seen if Edinburgh’s call for divestment will be supported by greater numbers of students and staff.