Staff news

Update on the University’s investments

A statement from the Principal on the University’s investments.

This morning the University Executive discussed the proposals for our investment policy tabled by a number of colleagues yesterday, following their open letter to the University leadership and a consultation held with some of them on Monday afternoon.

These follow the demands which came directly from our student protestors, which we have responded to directly.

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We abhor the violence and loss of life we’re witnessing and the atrocities that have taken place in recent months. We understand our students’ reasons for taking such extreme measures as part of their protest. We are a University and like all interactions in a University we learn by listening. We are working to understand a difficult issue for all in our community, and hearing your viewpoints directly has been very important.

Our students and staff have reminded us how critical it is that we have a responsible investment policy that we can all stand by, and recent protests have led us to question if the approach that we have taken to date on responsible investment has been strong enough. I would like to thank you – our students and staff – for raising the issues around investment and the wider challenges with us.

We particularly want to say to our students that we recognise the concerns being raised, including by EUSA colleagues, about not feeling listened to – you are. But more than that, I want to emphasise that we are proud to work with you and we value your input and your challenges to our policies. It also has a real impact. As one example, you have said, and we agree, that we could be more transparent about our financial investments.

We committed to feeding back the outcomes of the University Executive discussions to our community as soon as possible after the meeting which is the purpose of this message.

To that end, we have agreed three significant actions.

The University Executive reaffirmed its commitment to not investing in armaments, currently defined in our policy as ‘controversial weapons’. A short life working group will work at fast pace to review and confirm the wording of the definition of armaments as part of our investment approach. I will draw on the expertise of the University to appoint a convenor with insight and perspective on this issue, and include colleagues in Finance, Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Heads of School, the academic community and a EUSA representative.

We will establish a second working group to run in parallel with the first, with similar University-wide input, to review our policies and ensure our approach to investments is fully in line with UN Principles for Responsible Investment and with our University’s values. This will form a crucial part of our consultation around our Responsible Investment Policy.

In this fast moving and highly sensitive situation, we recognise how important it is to not only keep you informed of the discussions that are taking place, but to let you know how your input plays a crucial part in the decisions that are being taken. We will therefore quickly identify an appropriate facilitator who will engage with key University communities in a spirit of openness to demonstrate progress and to ensure transparency in how we invest.

Despite this being challenging, we do not shy away from our duty of care to you. We will continue to work with you to ensure that our University upholds its values in every aspect of what we do.

Professor Peter Mathieson

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

14 May 2024