An openDemocracy investigation has found that over the past five years, UK universities have received over £100 million in donations, funding, and sponsorships from arms companies. According to the investigation, Oxford University has taken approximately £17 million, with the lion’s share of this money from Rolls Royce.

A new report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and Demilitarise Education (dED), 

into the militarisation of universities reveals that privatisation, the academic funding crisis and commercialisation of universities has led to increasing ties between the military, arms companies, and academia with billions of pounds worth of investment. It shows that the military relies on academic expertise to develop military and dual use technologies.

The report, Weaponising Universities – Research collaborations between UK universities and the Military Industrial Complex, also highlights how academic research is being used to greenwash the arms industry. Through academic investment in supposed green technologies to “dominate the battlefield whilst limiting harm to the environment, universities are furthering a perception of the arms industry as legitimate partners and a source of “sustainable” investment”.

Weaponising Universities shows how our universities are being used to normalise war where the “quest for military dominance, arms as a means to security, as well as preparation for war are all taken for granted and treated as a given.” The report sets out alternatives to this model and includes recommendations for governments, civil society, universities, faculty, and students. 

Report author Okopi Ajonye said:

“Since industry, along with universities, are on the frontlines of scientific and technological innovation, the military heavily depends on universities for research and development into military and dual-use products. Therefore, universities are a key foundation of the contemporary military-industrial complex.”

Emily Apple, CAAT’s Media Coordinator stated:

“This is a vitally important report that exposes the huge level of investment universities receive from the arms industry. These ties between academia and this trade in death and destruction must be severed. Instead of greenwashing weapons manufacturers, universities should be investing in research that actually helps us tackle the climate crisis we are all facing.” 

Jinsella, Demilitarise Education Co-Founder & Executive Director stated:

“Universities capacity should support international peace building rather than self destructive military persuasion.”

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