British universities are under renewed pressure to end their investment in the arms trade, with students planning a nationwide day of action tomorrow (27 February 2008). Peaceful protests will take place simultaneously across the UK.
At University College London (UCL), students dressed as arms dealers will attempt to sell fake weapons in the main quad. At Lancaster, students will join an open-air debate about the university's links with BAE Systems. Other locations for major student protests include Oxford, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle and Warwick.
The events are organised by students, with the support of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and People & Planet, the UK's largest student campaigning network.
Universities' links with the arms trade have attracted heavy criticism in recent years, with several institutions choosing to divest from arms companies following campaigns by students and university staff. These include the University of Wales, Bangor and the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which forms part of the University of London.
Other institutions, such as UCL, have agreed to adopt ethical investment policies, but have yet to commit themselves to ruling out arms investments.
UCL student and CAAT campaigner Sara Hall said: "The arms trade has no place in any institution based on learning and progress. Universities are keen to see students as consumers, but students are amongst Britain's most ethical consumers. Universities such as Bangor and SOAS have ditched their arms shares without any damage to their finances. Other universities now have an opportunity to improve their reputation by announcing that they will end their links with the arms trade."