Thank you for the petitions and statement you gave me yesterday. I have discussed these with the Principal, and he has asked that I send you the attached response.
You will see that the Principal is willing to meet with representatives of the group. While I'm afraid this is not possible on Monday, he would be happy to do so as early as can be arranged. Please come back to me if you would like to make arrangements to meet with him.
Secretary of Court
RESPONSE TO PETITION FEBRUARY 2009
First, the University would like to thank you for submitting your petition and for sharing your thoughts and views. We respect your right to do so and acknowledge and thank you for the responsible way in which you have presented your case.
Let me respond to your demands by making the University's position clear on the issues you raise.
As members of Universities UK and in full support of its position, we are resolutely committed to the right to education, enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We firmly believe that higher education is a global activity and we value our academic links with universities all over the world. Higher Education is a force for understanding, tolerance and respect between peoples.
Thus as a University, as a diverse community of people possessing and advocating a range of views and positions, we reserve and defend the right to question, research, analyze any governments, ideologies, positions, evidences and arguments with a view to enhancing understanding and building knowledge.
We stand by the recently released UUK statement issued by the President, Universities UK, which supports the call for an end to the conflict in and beyond Gaza. The suffering caused to people in Gaza is of deep concern to us all.
The University is willing to facilitate a day of fundraising on campus for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza.
In relation to our research links, the University is engaged in research across a wide range of areas funded from a broad spectrum of sources including research councils, charities, business and industry.
Our main focus is the understanding of fundamental principles and generic technologies.
Where we have links with companies involved in air or aerospace technologies these principles apply. We do not undertake research directly related to weaponry.
We note the concern you have expressed regarding Eden Springs water. This matter has previously been considered by the Scottish Parliament in response to a petition - Petition Number: PE102 8. The response indicated that the company Eden Springs (UK) sources its water in Blantyre and that as it has not committed any criminal offence nor an act of grave misconduct, there are no reasonable grounds for cancelling existing contracts.
As an international University we actively encourage free exchange of staff and students regardless of race or ethnic origin. We aim to be a welcoming community, finding richness in diversity. We have a suite of scholarships that are available to all and we would warmly welcome applications from Palestinian students. Similarly, in the context of our internationalisation strategy, we are interested in promoting links and exchanges with universities throughout the world, based on the academic interests of both parties.
You have suggested the University consider a scheme for donating old books, computers and other surplus materials to universities and schools in Gaza and we are happy to look into the practicalities of that.
I appreciate the depth of the concern that underlies the petitions and series of demands you have set out. I would be willing to meet with representatives of your group to discuss these matters with you.
Muir Russell, Principal