The hoary old cliche of unversities as places of independent scholarship and reflection unencumbered by ideological inducement or such trifles as great big bags of cash was always just that, a myth that was deeply bound up with the cultural capital of the middle and upper classes. However, now knowing that UK Universities as a sector has a £27bn turnover (in 2013 that would place it fourth in the FTSE 100, behind Tesco, Vodafone and Sainsbury’s) one has to say that Havant’s leading tosspot and former higher education minister David Willetts MP’s reforms has changed more than just the outrageous tripling of fees, it has also lead to a much closer relationship with business than before.
We have written about BAE Systems and their deep complicity in massive human rights violations by arming authoritarian regimes that murder and repress those fighting for democracy and social justice, now it has come to our attention that UoP has received the following ‘research funding’ from BAE in the last three years:
2011/2012 – £108,704
2012/2013 – £301,224
2013/2014 – £61,030
It has been an interesting period for BAE too, here are some highlights:
The sale of 200 Tactica armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. These vehicles were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011.
A 2012, £200m contract to upgrade Saudi 70 F-15 combat aircraft with the company’s Digital Electronic Warfare System (BAE Annual Report 2012)
In 2012 BAE completed the upgrading of the Saudi Tornado fleet. “Central to the upgrade is a new digital weapons and avionics system” (BAE Annual Report 2012).
During a visit by David Cameron to the UAE in November 2012, the UK and UAE issued a joint communique which included the commitment to work together to “establish a defence industrial partnership that involves close collaboration around Typhoon and a number of new technologies” (10 Downing Street, 6.11.2012). BAE said in its 2012 Annual Report that they are “progressing opportunities for Typhoon” in the UAE.
Detica, a BAE-owned cyber-security firm, has an office in Manama, Bahrain. BAE refused to disclose further information when questioned on the topic at the company’s 2012 Annual General Meeting, citing reasons of “national security” for not doing so. The Detica page on the Bahraini British Business Forum classifies Detica’s business category as a “training company”, noting the range of skills of instructors at Detica, including; knowledge of surveillance, counter-surveillance, covert audio and CCTV deployments, covert tracking, and IT exploitation (BBBF).
MBDA missiles used by all sides on in the 2011 Libyan war. The MBDA missile company is part-owned (37.5%) by BAE. It sold weaponry to the Gaddafi regime in 2007 and its missiles were extensively used by the UK and French military in the 2011 war and also supplied to rebel forces.
(information from http://www.caat.org.uk/)
Of course BAE and the Ministry of Defence also have a close relationship and BAE are also complicit in the US/UKs war for oil in Iraq and the decade-long bombardment and occupation of Afghanistan.
As internationalists we take it personally when security forces arrest activists or crush democratic revolutions. For us the dispossessed Shia of the Eastern Arabian peninsula and Libyan masses who faced down Gadaffi’s guns are our class allies as much as our friends, colleagues and comrades. The University, like any other in capitalist society, is a contested space and shouldn’t panhandle from these criminals. The question of what universities are for – an educated society, publicly spirited research, intellectual development or just another money spinner in a world ruled by violence and greed – couldn’t be posed more clearly.