Monday, September 15, 2008

OU Partnerships with armed forces?

From 'the spark' newsletter of the OU branch of the UCU May 2008

UCU asks
Q. is the branch against partnerships with the armed forces?
A. UCA nationally and at Branch level , does not oppose students from the armed forces. The Metrix [partnership is different. It raises controversial issues regarding privitisation and the business methods of those we enter into partnerships with. One of the company's has been involved in a series of bribery and industrial espionage cases and another has been condemned for applying 'racial sterotypes' to trecruiting (and sacking) staff. Involvement with Metrix associates the University with the murky world of arms trading. what is the brand message there?

Q. what are the guidelines about
A. The guidelines focus on four main areas - arms trade, animal; welfare, ecological impact and corporate responsibility (including human rights) They set basic requirements that organisations wishing to partner with the University should meet. rather than 'reinvent the wheel' the guidelines are based on those successfully used by the co-operative bank.
They are set out as proposals in a preliminary Branch document which will be presented to senior management in the next month.

Q. Are other universities doing this?
A. while the OU heads into partnerships with arms manufactureres, other universities are going in the other direction. University College London has decided to withdraw all investment from arms companies. St Andrews University and Pembroke college, Cambridge have already done so. UCL has said it is conscious of the negative effect arms investment may have on alumni donations. New Hall and St Catherines colleges, Cambridge, have divested from companies doing business with the Sudanese government. The more 'commercial' universities become, the more strategic partnerships will come under the media spotlight, and influence the attitudes their stakwholders take to them.

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