Cambridge under fire for accepting money from dictatorships

They accepted a total of £14.8 million recently

Cambridge China dictatorships human rights money MPs Oman Saudi Arabia university

Cambridge, and other British Universities, have come under fire for accepting donations from countries with severe human rights violations, The Telegraph has revealed. 

In recent years, Cambridge University has accepted £14.8 million from countries under dictatorships and those abusing human rights. In order to establish a professorship for Chinese Studies, the university accepted £3.7m from charity controlled by former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

They have also accepted £8m from Alwaleed Bin Talal, a Saudi Prince, for a centre for the study of the role of Islam, to be founded in his name, and £3.1m from Oman Sultan Qaboos bin Said, to set up a professorship of Modern Arabic. Qaboos recently made the news for spending a whopping £558,000 in just one week on holiday in Turkey, as well as frequently being embroiled in the issues of human rights abuse in Saudi Arabia.

That is the equivalent of 248,000 pints of Turkish lager – he must have had quite the holiday

It is not only Cambridge that is guilty. Other universities in the list include Oxford, which has accepted over £100 million from countries with dubious human rights records, Exeter, Durham and Edinburgh.

Tut tut tut, Oxford’s acceptance of donations is far worse than Cambridge

Robert Halfon MP, education select committee chair, has criticised universities for accepting such funds. He said that universities needed to think “Very carefully” about where funds were coming from, and “I’d rather they looked at democratic countries as opposed to dictatorships or countries with questionable human rights records.”

A spokesman from the Russell Group argued that philanthropy was vital to enabling the higher education sector “to deliver world-class research and teaching”, but that “Maintaining academic independence is paramount and our universities have established policies in place for considering donations.”