HUNDREDS of staff at Glasgow University have signed an open letter calling on university management to divest from the arms trade.

The letter was published on Friday and is set to be discussed at the next University Court meeting on Tuesday, which will be attended by Palestinian rector Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah.

A total of 308 members of staff – from both academic and professional services and working in all four of the university’s colleges – signed the letter, which claims that Glasgow University is complicit in investing in and sustaining “companies whose weapons [are currently] effecting destruction on Palestinian civilians”.

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One of the letter’s signatories is Zara Gladman (below), a member of university staff and a comedian based in Glasgow, who is raising money for Medical Aid for Palestine as part of The National’s Euro 2024 charity sweepstake.

It comes after more than 500 staff at Edinburgh University published an open letter calling on the university to sever all ties with Israel.

The letter from staff at Glasgow University notes that the university may be breaking its own rules, as well as laws on investment and procurement, by continuing to invest in weapons and companies whose products have been “implicated in the deaths of multitudes of men, women and children in Gaza”.

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More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the escalation of conflict on October 7, after Hamas militants attacked parts of southern Israel, killing about 1200 people and taking around 250 people hostage.

A working group set up by the university’s governing body has been meeting with stakeholders over several months, including student group Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF) and other staff and student groups, and will make a recommendation about whether to divest an estimated £5 million of its investment portfolio held in arms and related companies.

GAAF has led a campaign of actions in recent months calling for an end to the university’s investment in the weapons industry and has since been engaging with university leadership on its list of demands.

National contributor Alison Phipps (below), professor of languages and intercultural studies and Unesco chair in refugee integration through languages and the arts, said the letter “identified the need for urgent, yet considered action”.

Phipps said: “Strong, ethical and principled action requires many voices and a great deal of courage.

“The staff at the University of Glasgow who have signed this letter have, like many university staff and students around the world, identified the need for urgent, yet considered action regarding investments by their institutions in weapons and illegal settlements.

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“Divestment represents the next vital step in constructive and firm action for a just peace, alongside others.”

Maud Bracke, professor of modern European history, said: “It is a stunning statement of how widely and deeply staff feel about this issue that so many people from so many parts of the university have signed this letter.

“From lab technicians and business planners to senior professors and course administrators, colleagues across all academic disciplines and services are asking our university for a meaningful and ethical response to the escalating devastation we are witnessing.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow University said: "The University of Glasgow was the first HE institution - and still one of only a few -  to call for the immediate release of all hostages and a humanitarian ceasefire.

"Following a petition last semester, the University set up a working group chaired by a lay member of Court (the University’s governing body) to consider the issue of divestment in the defence sector and related matters.

"This group has reported to Court, which is expected to make a final decision this month.

"Working with institutions in the Middle East, we are actively considering what more we can do to support those affected by the conflict."

Read the full open letter below.

“The scale of catastrophe wrought by Israel in Gaza since 7 October is staggering, encompassing the deaths of tens of thousands of non-combatants, the obliteration of every university as well as many hospitals, schools, farms, and neighbourhoods.

“Vital humanitarian aid is blocked by military and paramilitary actors, putting the lives of millions at risk. The companies whose weapons and equipment effect this destruction are sustained by investment by universities in the UK, including the University of Glasgow.

“As staff of the university, we strongly urge its divestment from arms companies in line with the demand from the student group Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF). It is entirely inconsistent that an institution committed to transforming and uplifting lives would invest in companies whose products end them.

“Moreover, internal advice to both the UK and US Governments has concluded that Israel’s actions violate international law. These conclusions suggest the University of Glasgow’s own rules on procurement and investment are being breached.

“Recently, several higher education institutions around the world, including the University of York and Trinity College at Cambridge University have committed to working towards divestment from the arms trade.

“The University of Glasgow was one of the first higher education institutions to call for a ceasefire and return of hostages. It has taken on responsibility to support education reparation of Palestinian medical students whose home training facilities have been razed.

“We welcome and support the University’s Senior Management Group adopting these positions and maintaining a dialogue with GAAF and others to explore how to respond to what is happening in Gaza. We ask that there will be no repercussions against the students who have been involved in actions on our campus around arms divestment or Gaza.

“As this crisis continues to unfold and expand, meaningful action is required to avoid complicity in it.”