NUS Scotland exposes top universities' unethical investments
Scotland’s universities are making millions on the back of unethical investments, a freedom of information (FOI) request has discovered.
Leading universities continue to invest in what the National Union of Students Scotland (NUS) deems harmful industries, such as fossil fuel exploration and arms.
In its FOI request it found nearly £16m is invested in companies involved in oil, gas and coal extraction, over £6m is invested in fossil fuel services and almost £3m is invested in the arms industry.
The University of Edinburgh, which at £291,806,852 has the largest investment portfolio in Scotland, invests almost £8.6m in fossil fuels, a further £5.9m in fossil fuel services, and £675,000 in the arms industry.
At the moment, many of them either don’t know or don’t care what companies their investments are supporting
The University of Strathclyde invested 10% out of its overall endowment of £27,040,000 into fossil fuel companies and 3% into arms.
And the University of Glasgow invested 5% out of its £43,327,918 endowment into fossil fuel extraction, and 3% into the arms industry.
It also discovered the University of Dundee, with an endowment of £21,039,968, invested 9% of its fund into oil, gas and coal.
Most of the institutions who responded recognised the need for socially responsible investment principles in their investment policy, but have no formal exclusions in place for companies that cause environmental damage or contribute to armed conflict.
NUS Scotland is now calling on universities and other publicly funded institutions to ensure they are investing their money in a socially responsible way.
“It’s shameful that Scottish universities are still pouring so much money into industries that are destroying the planet and fuelling conflict," said Kirsty Haigh, NUS Scotland vice president communities. "Our institutions should be working to benefit not just their campuses but wider society as well, and we should expect more from them.
"At the moment, many of them either don’t know or don’t care what companies their investments are supporting.
“None of the reasons for divestment are contentious, and universities should recognise that and take action.
"Burning fossil fuels is causing disastrous climate change, and arms companies profit from conflict and human rights abuses. Our universities—who are at the forefront of world leading research, innovation and social progress—should know this better than anyone.”
Last year, the University of Glasgow became the first university in Europe to commit to fossil fuel divestment, and the University of Edinburgh are taking a decision on fossil fuel divestment later this month.