Glasgow University funds £20m programme of ‘reparative justice’ over historical links to slave trade

The institution benefited by tens of millions of pounds from ‘appalling and heinous’ trade

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Friday 02 August 2019 15:43
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Reparations agreement: Professor Sir Hilary Beckles of the University of the West Indies, left, shakes hands with Dr David Duncan of the University of Glasgow
Reparations agreement: Professor Sir Hilary Beckles of the University of the West Indies, left, shakes hands with Dr David Duncan of the University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow has signed a deal with a Caribbean university as part of a £20m programme of “reparative justice” over its historical links to the slave trade.

The prestigious Russell Group university set up the scheme after a year-long study found it had benefited by tens of millions of pounds from the “appalling and heinous” slave trade.

The institution has now signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research will be created.

The centre will host events, sponsor research, coordinate academic collaborations between universities, and aims to raise public awareness about the history of slavery.

After signing the agreement in the Jamaican capital Kingston, Dr David Duncan, chief operating officer of the University of Glasgow, described it as a “historic occasion” for the universities.

Speaking about the university’s investigation, Dr Duncan said: “We were conscious both of the proud part that Glasgow played in the abolitionist movement, and an awareness that we would have benefited, albeit indirectly, from that appalling and heinous trade.

“From the very first we determined to be open, honest and transparent with the findings, and to produce a programme of reparative justice.”

He added: “I am delighted that as a result of the report we are now able to sign a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and the UWI and I look forward to the many collaborative ventures that we will jointly undertake in future.”

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of UWI, said he was proud of the decision by Glasgow “to take this bold, moral, historic step in recognising the slavery aspect of its past and to rise as an advocate of reparatory justice, and an example of 21st-century university enlightenment”.

It comes amid a wider “decolonise” movement sweeping university campuses in Britain and the US.

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Earlier this year, Bristol and Cambridge universities launched inquiries into their slave trade links.

A two-year investigation will look at Cambridge’s role during the “dark phase of human history”.

Additional reporting by PA

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