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Universities Pressed to Review Ties with UAE

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Experts and lecturers' unions have warned that it is no longer safe for British academics and students to work and study in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The warning comes after a Durham PhD student was sentenced to life in jail having been accused of spying.

UK universities are now being urged to review their ties with the UAE and halt any planned projects, such as the University of Birmingham's planned Dubai campus.

Staff at Birmingham University are due to vote on the academic boycott of the proposed campus in Dubai, which opened in September. If the motion is backed, lecturers will refuse to teach on the campus or provide any support or materials for its courses.

Several other UK universities have branches in the UAE, including City University, the London Business School, Birmingham, Middlesex and Heriot-Watt.

Commenting on the recent incident, James Brackley, the president of the Birmingham branch of the University and College Union (UCU) said the imprisonment should act as a wake-up call for the university's management.

Matt Waddup, the UCU's national head of policy and campaigns, added: "British universities may be keen to launch overseas campuses in places like the UAE, but this case demonstrates that they need to seek stronger assurances on human rights and the treatment of academics."

Staff at the University of Birmingham will vote on campus boycott this Thursday.