Provost responds to renewed proposal for Israel boycott
26 May 2006
UCL President and Provost Malcolm Grant today expressed his concern at a proposal due to be debated next weekend by the National Association of Higher and Further Education (NATFHE) for a boycott of Israel universities and academics unless they publicly dissociate themselves from the policies of the State of Israel.
It echoes a resolution that was adopted last year by the Association of University Teachers (AUT), but subsequently rescinded.
Professor Grant said: "I am deeply worried by the revival of this call for a boycott. It is extraordinary that it should be academic unions who wish to lead an attack on academic freedom. The effect of this resolution will not be confined to NATFHE, because it will merge later this year with the AUT. The new union will be contaminated from the outset if this proposal is adopted.
"An academic boycott for political ends is in direct conflict with the mission of a university, and betrays a misunderstanding of our function.
"We defend freedom of speech in universities because we believe it to be fundamental to the global dissemination and enhancement of knowledge and discovery, all of which in turn contributes to the improvement of the human condition.
"At the heart of UCL's foundation 180 years ago was the simple principle of non-discrimination against any person by reason of their means, their race, their views or their faith.
"That principle was radical and controversial in its time, but it is now respected by every institution worthy of the title of university. We at UCL have no intention of compromising that commitment today, and we will continue to stand firm against any academic boycott."
To find out more about Professor Grant, use the link at the bottom of this article.