Campaign to kick arms companies off campus intensifies

18 October 2011

The 2011-12 academic year will see anti-arms trade campaigners intensify efforts to kick arms companies off university campuses. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) Universities' Network will be supporting students, staff and academics to "Ban BAE" and other arms companies from all aspects of university life.

The key target for this year to stop BAE Systems from recruiting students on campus. BAE is the UK's largest weapons producer and together with other arms companies it spends thousands of pounds on recruiting staff to research, design, build, market and sell the next generation of killing equipment.

Activities planned for the year by CAAT's Universities' Network include:

  • demonstrating against arms companies involvement in graduate careers fairs and other recruitment events
  • supporting student unions to propose and pass "Ban BAE" motions
  • publicising arms company funding for and involvement in university research projects
  • encouraging students to research university investments in arms companies and assist in the development of robust ethical investment policies which would bar such investments.

CAAT has compiled an interactive map of over 40 university-linked careers events in England, Wales and Scotland where BAE or other arms traders will have a presence. Many events specifically target engineering and science students whose skills are keenly sought by the arms industry but are in high demand in other sectors such as renewable energy techologies.

2010-11 saw actions at careers events at many universities, including Bristol, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Exeter, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick and York. Activities ranged from leafleting and debates to disruptions and "die-ins". A successful alternative careers event at York advised students about ethical paths they could take in the world of work.

Beth Smith, CAAT's Universities' Network Co-ordinator, says:

Arms companies need to recruit graduates to survive and expand, so reducing the numbers of students willing to work for such companies would cause them real damage. Last year we saw students at many universities take direct action against arms companies. This year we want to see student unions take a lead in banning arms companies from campus. Ultimately we aim to sever the links between education and the arms trade entirely.

For more information on our Ban BAE campaign please contact Beth Smith, Universities' Network Co-ordinator or ring 020 7281 0297. For further information on CAAT please contact our Press Co-ordinator or ring 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232.


1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) in the UK works to end the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and society and damages economic development. Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems Around 80% of CAAT's income is raised from individual supporters.

2. CAAT has revised its action guide for students and activists, Disrupting Arms Company Recruitment, available to download from CAAT's website, together with a BAE Counter-Recruitment Campaign Pack. Further information on the campaign and the Universities' Network is available here.

3. CAAT has compiled an initial list of dates when BAE is visiting universities which is available here. This is not a comprehensive list - check with your university careers service if your university isn't listed.

4. On 18 October activists opposed to the arms trade demonstrated non-violently against the presence of arms firms at the London Graduate Fair, run by the London Careers Group. Ekklesia reported on the protest.

5. In addition to campus-based recruitment, there are other events such as the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham on 28-29 October which will have participation from BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover and the Ministry of Defence's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl).

6. BAE Systems is one of the world's largest arms companies. It makes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery systems, missiles and munitions. Its main overseas markets are Saudi Arabia and the United States, with large sales also to Australia, India and South Africa. BAE has been dogged for years by persistent allegations of bribery and its activities have investigated in several countries, including the UK, USA and South Africa. In February 2010 BAE agreed to plead guilty to "accounting irregularities" in a 1999 sale of radar equipment to Tanzania and was fined £30 million, while being simultaneously fined $400 million by the US Department of Justice for conspiring to defraud the US and for making false statements under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.


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