UCL and Libya

16 March 2011

There has been intense media scrutiny of UK universities’ links with Libya, in the light of the current situation in the country. UCL has no significant institutional involvement with Libya. There has been some academic interaction with the country, and details of two projects are set out below.

UCL Provost Malcolm Grant says: “This issue raises a fundamental dilemma.  Universities are compelled to operate in real time and with best available knowledge and make difficult judgements. The press operate retrospectively and with benefit of hindsight. Our best universities are truly global institutions and entrepreneurial in a way that acts strongly to the UK's economic interests.

“It would be clearly wrong to suggest that no academic interaction should ever take place between UK institutions and countries with questionable regimes. Academic engagement can promote an opening up of a closed regime. It can bring benefits – as with healthcare and medical education – to people living under an oppressive regime”.

“But it is a sensitive area, and we are proposing the setting up of an independent panel to advise the UCL Council on past, current and future relationships,” added Professor Grant.

UCL Division of Medical Education (DoME)

Since December 2006 faculty members from DoME have been visiting both Tripoli and the east Libyan city of Benghazi to provide basic teacher training to Libyan doctors and to collaborate with those involved in medical education on the ground to develop local facilitators, who would then be in a position to deliver teacher training themselves. Six members of staff from UCL have given up their free time to visit Libya on eight separate trips over the past four years, on a modest honorarium basis.

Dr Deborah Gill, a senior lecturer from DoME, said: “In the spirit of UCL’s globalisation agenda and with the potential to use our education expertise to help to improve medical education, which ultimately improves the lives of Libyan people, we were happy to agree to run some courses in Libya and to help to develop their medical educators to ultimately take over this role.”

Due to the current unrest in Libya the work has been suspended for the immediate future. However, DoME academics are hopeful that the arrangement can be resumed once a stable government is established.

UCL Institute of Archaeology

In the mid 1990s a small group of academics and students from UCL visited the World Heritage site Lepcis Magna in Libya on two occasions to take part in an excavation.

UCL awarded one academic a modest grant to part-cover his expenses for the trip to Lepcis Magna, where he conducted a photographic survey of the site.

Media contact: Dominque Fourniol


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