Uni students up in Arms

Students from Lancaster University Against The Arms Trade protesting against Lancaster University's investment in BAE Systems.
Students from Lancaster University Against The Arms Trade protesting against Lancaster University's investment in BAE Systems.
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Students at Lancaster University this week protested about the university’s investments in BAE Systems.

Members of the Lancaster University Against the Arms Trade society staged Wednesday’s demonstration in Alexandra Square to mark the national Campaign Against the Arms Trade Day of Action.

Campaigners say that BAE, which has sites at Warton and Samlesbury in Lancashire, has supplied weapons to regimes with appalling human rights records, including Saudi Arabai and Gaddaffi-era Libya.

They waved banners and urged passers-by to sign their petition.

Student and campaigner, Michelle Brown, said: “We find our university’s funding of bloodshed and repression an indefensible, amoral outrage.

“We demand that this investment ends immediately and is re-channeled into ethical organisations. “Lancaster represents itself as a liberal, ethical university but the ugly truth is it invests in genocide and this must stop.”

A university spokeswoman said money invested in BAE shares came from donations received more than 10 years ago rather than student tuition fees.

She said: “At the request of the donors, the money was put into a trust which is authorised by the Charity Commission.

“The trust has an ethical restriction in that it does not invest in tobacco related industries but has no restrictions in relation to aerospace or defence.”

She added that the amount represented 0.03 per cent of the university’s investments and 2.36% of the BAE endowment fund.

A BAE systems spokeswoman said: “BAE Systems remains committed to achieving and sustaining a leadership role in ethical business conduct and we regularly review and externally benchmark our business conduct programme to ensure it is in line with best practice.

“All defence equipment and services exported from the UK are subject to strict export licenses granted by the UK Government.

“BAE Systems has the most stringent anti-corruption and compliance standards across business generally.”

She added that the company was committed to giving students the chance to fund out about graduate opportunities and international careers with the company.