Statement on proposals for an academic boycott of Israel

06 November 2009

Commenting on the proposal for an academic boycott of Israel by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Professor Michael Arthur, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leeds and Chair of the Russell Group of Universities, said the Group’s position had been made clear in 2007 when an academic boycott of Israel by UK universities was proposed by the University and College Union.

Professor Arthur would like to reiterate what the then chair, Prof Malcolm Grant, said:

"We reject outright the call for an academic boycott. It is a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university. It betrays a misunderstanding of the academic mission which is founded squarely on freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. Any institution worthy of the title of university has the responsibility to protect these values, and it is particularly disturbing to find an academic union attacking academic freedom in this way.

"The Russell Group universities will uphold academic freedom by standing firm against any boycott that threatens it."

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