Guest blog from Youth PSC
At most higher education institutions in the UK, students, staff and academics have little oversight of how those at the top of the university make decisions. This is particularly true of university investments, where decisions are made in closed subcommittees, with little student or staff representation.
PSC research has uncovered UK universities collectively invest an estimated over £450,000,000 in companies complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights, including companies supplying the Israeli military with weapons and technology, and companies included in the UN database of businesses active in Israel’s illegal Jewish-only settlements on stolen Palestinian land.
While those who make decisions in our institutions may have little formal accountability, there is a way to fight back. Across the UK students, supported by PSC, have been building strong campaigns to get their universities to divest from all complicit companies. By bringing together powerful coalitions they’ve been fighting for justice, and winning.
The PSC Student Day of Action on November 25 saw young people calling on their institutions to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s grave breaches of Palestinian human rights based on the PSC research, with universities across the country being held accountable for their investment choices.
Early this year, campaigners found that the University of Manchester divested millions from a raft of companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights, including Caterpillar, Cemex and Booking.com. Inspiring campaigners brought together a powerful coalition on campus, with the BDS Campaign, Fossil Free Manchester, and Decolonise UoM joining in multiple protests and events to demand divestment from companies complicit in human rights abuses. This victory was the second major Israeli apartheid divestment win in the UK, after the University of Leeds sold its shares in 3 complicit companies targeted by student activists.
But there’s still a long-way to go. As our research has demonstrated, the complicit investments of most institutions remain, contributing to the oppression of the Palestinian people. We must keep campaigning for justice.
To this end, the PSC Youth and Student Committee, the body that coordinates our work with young people and students is busy strategising for 2021. Plans will bring together university activists from across the world to mutually learn and strengthen student campaigning. The YSC is also looking to increase their digital presence, ensuring our key messages reach students, even if they’re not being taught on campus.
While the upcoming year will have its challenges, it’s also an opportunity. The current financial crisis has shown that the model of higher education which relies on extortionate fees, high accommodation charges, and exploiting precarious academics, and human rights abusing investments can’t continue. A coalition of all parts of the university community can bring justice.
Find out more and get involved here.