The University has received nearly £6 million from arms firms over the past three years, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

From 1st April 2009 to 17th May 2012, the University was awarded £722,218.07 by the Ministry of Defence, £243,016.00 by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), £4,975,213.99 by Rolls Royce PLC, and £50,093.00 by QinetiQ Limited.

A Freedom of Information request also revealed that the University does not currently receive funding from BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest defence manufacturer. However, Dr Chris Fell, Principal Consultant Engineer at BAE Systems, is quoted on the University’s website saying that Nottingham is the company’s ‘ideal partner’.

University departments benefiting most from this funding are the Department of Mechanical Materials, Manufacturing, Engineering & Management, the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, and the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

UoN is not alone in accepting funding from companies associated with the arms trade. CAAT revealed that between 2001 and 2006, more than 1,900 military projects were conducted in the 26 British universities (including Nottingham) covered by the research.

CAAT estimates that these military projects added up to a minimum income of £725 million for the named universities.

Transparency International, an international corruption monitoring organisation, emphasises that the international arms trade is one of the three most corrupt industries in the world.

BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defence company, agreed to pay fines of up to $79 million to the US government for breaking military export rules in May 2011. The company had previously been forced to pay fines amounting to $450 million to the US and UK as a result of corrupt defence contracts agreed with Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

In February 2012, the Ministry of Defence admitted that it had sold arms to undemocratic governments with poor human rights records.

In light of this, CAAT wants universities to adopt more ethical investment policies that they believe should exclude the arms trade. According to CAAT, projects funded by arms companies permit the influence of ‘military organisations…[within] university departments.’

A UoN spokesperson addressed the claims, stating: “This is not a true representation of research taking place at Nottingham. The University does not support or seek to support, directly or indirectly, the trade of arms. This is borne out by the projects listed on the website, which are for research to improve engines, electrical systems, composite materials, and so on – rather than weapons.

“The characterisation of University staff as being involved in weapons research is wrong – little, if any, research funded at the university is directly military in nature.

“As a leading research institution, the University works in close collaboration with many large companies on the development of the latest technologies. The work we do with companies such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems is not on the development of technologies for military applications but innovation that will help to improve the quality of civilian life, such as improved safety or reducing the environmental impact of jet engines.

“It is also worth noting that the university has a long track-record of helping organisations such as the Open Society Institute and the UNESCO PEACE Programme.”

Kateryna Rolle

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5 Comments

  1. Bobbinz
    January 19, 2013 at 12:29 — Reply

    I don’t really see the problem with this. Many of these companies are major serearch providers and arms us just a weeny part of what they do.

    Without the work they do we would all certainly be in a sticky situation and if they want to use the University of Nottingham as one of their research centres it just means that Nottingham is good at what it does right?

  2. Lee
    January 19, 2013 at 14:31 — Reply

    This is a sensationalised article. Rolls-Royce plc can not be defined as an arms firm as the significant majority of their business is in the power systems industry. This is very familiar to anyone that’s ever flown on a commercial aircraft as they are the second biggest producer of aircraft engines in the world, and the research occurring at Nottingham into jet engines is helping to improve the quality of civilian life. Remove Rolls Royce and the figure is closer to one million than six – £338,442 per annum which isn’t a huge amount when you consider the scope of the university.

    So it would seem that the UoN spokesperson hit the nail on the head when he said that the research is not in to weapons. Personally however, it’s not something that bothers me if in fact the University was to begin researching weapons technology as we owe much of modern technology to government/military sponsored projects. This is in addition to the fact that we are currently at war in Afghanistan and the way things are going in Northern Africa at the moment could see our forces deployed there in the future as well. So in order for HM Armed Forces to stay at the forefront of international capability it is vital we have the kit, equipment and training to aid in the achievement of that goal. Universities naturally collect together some of the smartest people in the country so it is rational, in my opinion, for the UK MoD to invest in UoN.

  3. Dave J
    January 19, 2013 at 16:14 — Reply

    While recycling subject matter is always going to happen in any media, and isn’t a massive problem in student media where the readership changes every couple of years, this has been covered already in the last few years: http://www.impactnottingham.com/2010/01/dodgy-dealings-in-nottingham/

    As I said, unless you’re arguing that weapons are morally wrong in their entirety, it’s very difficult to successfully argue against University partnerships with arms industries. If it brings funding in to the uni and potential gets jobs for students, I don’t see why the University should be trying to make excuses for itself.

  4. Joe
    January 20, 2013 at 21:05 — Reply

    Indeed. Profiting from death is just fine – yesterday I went round and butchered a neighbour and helped myself to the contents of his fridge. I’m sure he saw my conduct as reasonable.

  5. Dave J
    January 20, 2013 at 21:24 — Reply

    Exactly! If only people saw it our way Joe.

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