Glasgow University to make amends to UWI over slavery profits

— £200 million in reparation payments to the University of the West Indies.

The University of Glasgow has examined the historical slave-holding record of benefactors.

By Caribbean News Now contributor – 

GLASGOW, Scotland — In September, after a year-long study discovered that Glasgow University benefited from the equivalent of tens of millions of pounds donated from the profits of slavery, the university announced a programme of “reparative justice”, which will now include the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The report found that, although the university itself “adopted a clear anti-slavery position”, during the 18th and 19th centuries it received gifts and bequests from people connected to slavery.        

Prof Sir Anton Muscatelli, the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “This report has been an important undertaking and commitment to find out if the university benefited from slavery in the past. Although the university never owned enslaved people or traded in the goods they produced, it is now clear we received significant financial support from people whose wealth came from slavery.”

The report concluded that the university benefited by between £16.7 million (US$21.4 million) and £198 million (US$254 million), depending on how the amount is updated to its present-day value.

Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, welcomed the report, saying: “I celebrate colleagues in Glasgow for taking these first steps and keenly anticipate working through next steps.”

According to Beckles, speaking recently in Jamaica, these “next steps” now include £200 million in reparation payments to the University of the West Indies.

He said the University of Glasgow and UWI are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding, and the term ‘reparatory justice’ is expected to be included.

The £200 million would be a combination of cash and kind.

“We are not on the street corners asking for handouts. We are looking for partnerships and development,” Beckles said.

One of the projects in which the University of Glasgow has reportedly shown interest involves research in chronic diseases in the Caribbean, including hypertension, diabetes, and childhood obesity.

“They are looking at the possibility of partnering with us and having a massive institute for chronic disease research that is going to prevent the proliferation of these diseases in the future,” Beckles noted.

He did not explain why the University of Glasgow had decided to confer the entire maximum current value of its slavery profits on the UWI.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On November 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Kudos to the University of Glasgow!

  • guyaneseonline  On November 28, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    …… No Agreement Yet on Reparations

    Read more:

    KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday November 28, 2018 – Not so fast, says the University of the West Indies (UWI), there’s no agreement yet on the payment of £200 million (US$256 million) in reparations from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Glas­gow.

    UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles sought to make that clear yesterday, on the heels of a Jamaica Gleaner newspaper article on Sunday which indicated that the university in the United Kingdom had agreed to make the payments. He said that “while the quoted content of the story is correct, the headline that suggests an agreement to pay £200 million to The UWI is not.”

    In a statement issued yesterday, Sir Hilary acknowledged that The University of Glasgow had admitted that the amount in fees, endowment and grants were received from Caribbean slave owners, but he stressed that deliberations on payment of reparations are still ongoing.

    “The universities are working through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) built upon the principle of ‘reparatory justice’, but there is no ‘agreement’ about the repayment of £200 million to The UWI,” he said.

    “In good faith, the two universities, ever since the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli indicated that his university seeks to be excellent and ethical, have had excellent conversations about how the University of Glasgow can contribute to cleaning up the colonial legacies of slavery that are holding back the region.”

    “A working team has been established, which has made many reparatory justice submissions, but is yet to complete its deliberations,” he added.

    A report entitled ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’, published recently by the university, reveals that it benefited directly from the slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries to the tune of almost £200 million in today’s money. It revealed that 16 bursaries, endowments and mortifications donated to the institution between 1809 and 1937 had a direct link to profits from slavery.

    The university has announced that it has launched a wide-ranging and ambitious reparative justice programme that is based on the findings of more than two years of research. In addition, it announced that it intends to implement programmes and projects that will provide scholarships and exchange programmes for Jamaican and other Caribbean students through its links with The UWI.

    Sir Hilary, who was one of three external advisors to the ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’ report, had spoken about the issue during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme ‘Insight’, where he said that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow had opened up the university’s records, and that showed a “massive influx” of grants and endowments from Jamaica.

    According to the university head, who recently returned from the UK, the university “recognized that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

    Read more:

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