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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 17:29 GMT
Universities arms trade protest
Students protesting - pic c/o Disarm UC
The protesters want universities to ditch shares in arms companies
Students are set to take part in a day of protest against universities' links to the arms trade on Wednesday.

Campaigners say anger is growing at universities' investment in arms firms, as well as their research links.

Protesters will attempt to sell fake weapons at the quad at University College London, while at Lancaster there will be an open-air debate.

Protests are also planned at the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle and Warwick.

'Shares ditched'

UCL student and Campaign Against the Arms Trade (Caat) campaigner Sara Hall said the arms trade had no place in any institution based on learning and progress.

"Universities are keen to see students as consumers, but students are amongst Britain's most ethical consumers.

"Universities such as Bangor and SOAS have ditched their arms shares without any damage to their finances.

"Other universities now have an opportunity to improve their reputation by announcing that they will end their links with the arms trade," she added.

A report by Caat claims military organisations - including arms companies and the Ministry of Defence - annually sponsor hundreds of projects at UK universities.

'Ethical responsibilities'

The research claimed that between 2001 and 2006, more than 1,900 military projects were conducted in 26 UK universities.

The total value of these projects is estimated to be a minimum of 725m.

Over half of all military projects are conducted in university engineering departments, with the rest spread over science and technology departments.

A spokesman for University College London said it had shares in one company in the aerospace and defence sector called Cobham.

He said the university had an ethical investment policy but was now setting up a consultation committe under the auspices of Lord Joffe to look at what constituted ethical investment.

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