Victory in Gower Street

Student campaign forces UCL to back down over arms trade investments

After some dynamic campus campaigning helped by a lively discussion on this blog, University College London (UCL)students have done it. UCL Provost Malcolm Grant and the UCL Council agreed that it's now time for their university to invest its money ethically.

Our case for divesting from the arms trader Cobham and for adopting an ethical investment policy has always been very strong. In the end UCL’s leadership, which until very recently defended holding shares in arms companies, had no choice but to come clean on investment.

This is a ground-breaking move. It puts UCL in a great position to be the global and innovative leader it prides itself to be. All of us at UCL(see our website) who campaigned for clean investment are completely over the moon with this recent success.

Better still, this victory is more than just about a single arms-free university in central London and a bunch of chuffed student campaigners, it is about proving that ethical investment is the future. In the light of this win, UCL is trail-blazing the way for other universities to follow, making it increasingly difficult for any arms investing universities (see here) to justify their position.

The win also shows the power of student solidarity and student campaigning is very much alive. Neither top-up fees nor criticism from the university’s leadership can stop us from standing up for what we believe is right.

Looking back the key to success seems to be our attempts to build a broad supporter base, to be creative, persistent and most importantly make the campaigning fun.

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