The University of Sheffield received nearly £30m from companies involved in the arms trade in the past five years, a Freedom of Information request by The Free University of Sheffield has revealed.
Rolls-Royce, which produces military aircraft engines and earns 23 per cent of its turnover from arms, invested £4,730,924 in the University last year only. BAE systems, which is the world’s third largest arms producer, invested £1,113,859. Around 94 per cent of BAE systems revenue comes from the sale of arms.
The world’s second largest arms producer, Boeing, is building Factory 2050 at the cost of £43m. Factory 2050 will be part of the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). Over 70 companies currently pay to use the centre, whose core research areas include design and prototyping, machining and assembly.
BAE Systems Submarine Solutions committed £2.5m to the University of Sheffield Centre for Research in Active Control, which will be dedicated to developing stealth technology.
The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC), located in the Mappin building, conducts research programmes under the direction of the international company.
A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “The University has several innovative research partnerships with international companies, including Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Boeing, which bring major benefits to students, allow us to offer a unique education experience and also drive important research projects to overcome the world’s toughest challenges.
“The AMRC are currently working with Rolls-Royce to carry out research and development into reducing carbon emissions from civil aircraft by the use of lightweight composite materials to make the engines more fuel efficient.
“Advancements in machining technology developed at the AMRC have also led to the creation of Rolls-Royce’s new £100m advanced aerospace disc manufacturing facility which has safeguarded hundreds of highly-skilled manufacturing jobs in the North East.
“We will continue to develop our partnership with these companies in order to position the University of Sheffield as a research-led university in the global environment.”
The Fund Education Not War policy declares the Union’s opposition to the University’s dealing with all arm companies and it resolves to lobby the University to divest of its shares in arms companies.
Sheffield Students’ Union has had a policy opposing the University’s dealing with all arms companies since 2007, when ‘University Relations with Arms Companies’ was passed by referendum with 2,116 votes for, 675 against and 739 abstentions.
Welfare Officer Tom Harrison, who is responsible for the Fund Education Not War policy said: “As is Union policy, the Union does not support any involvement with arms companies, whether promoting them at careers fairs, being funding by them or academic resources being used to support their aims. The University has numerous links with arms companies, but most actively with the development of Factory 2050 and the AMRC as well an investment portfolio that includes arms manufacturers.
“I have worked with Campaign Against Arms Trade and have written a briefing about the University relationship with arms companies to be sent to the Chief Financial Officer for action. Sheffield students have long since demanded the University of Sheffield cut ties with arms companies and I wholeheartedly support that, considering there is a legitimate academic freedoms argument to be had.
“When arms manufacturers are bankrolling universities, whose interest do you think research will benefit? That goes for all private funders. As in line with the Sheffield Student Manifesto, now been personally handed to 3 of the 4 leaders of the main parties in UK, we need a publicly funded education system, paid for by progressive taxation which will go some way to help end arms trade involvement in universities, the purpose of which needs to remain in the common good.”