Saturday, 20 December 2008


From 1 January 2009 UCL will adopt its ethical investment policy.

Click here for the full text of the policy.

This is an amazing victory for the Disarm UCL campaign ! For just over two years we have been campaigning for this policy. Our concerns and opinions were initially dismissed by the Provost but now they have been heard and the ethical investment policy will come into effect on 1 January.

This is a HUGE, HUGE thank you to everyone who helped to make this campaign a success. Your support, hard work and dedication has paid off big time. You should all be very proud of yourselves ! We also hope our victory can inspire campaigners at other universities and shows that students really can make a difference.

Of course there are ways we feel the ethical investment policy can be improved and we will
keep campaigning to improve the policy and make sure that UCL will contribute more profoundly to positive change through its investments. We will also continue to call for equal student representation and - FIRST AND FOREMOST - we will make sure UCL does actually sell its shares in arms trader Cobham plc. For more detailed criticism of the policy please click
here for the latest article in the Cheesegrater.

Please check this blog in future. We will post more details about the ethical investment policy and about the Cobham shares as soon as we know them.

In the meantime: GO OUT AND CELEBRATE !

A Farewell To Arms?

Here is the latest article on Disarm UCL in the Cheesegrater:

UCL is due to launch its ethical investment policy in January but the Provost shouldn’t be patting himself on the back just yet

THE LAST WEEK of November was Ethical Investment Week at UCL. In a panel
debate, Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council, spoke on the progress of ethical investment at
UCL. For Disarm UCL it was another success in their long-running campaign to persuade College to divest its shares in arms companies and adopt a holistic ethical investment policy.

However, the debate also revealed College’s ambiguous stance to the future for ethical investment at UCL. Concerns were raised that College’s new investment policy, due to be launched in January 2009, would only be a weak nod in the direction of ethical investment.

No blanket ban

Plans are for the assessment of investments on a case-by-case basis, rather than a blanket ban
on investments in arms companies. Although it seems likely that such a policy would mean
UCL divests its notorious shares in Cobham plc (see Cheese Grater issue 12), there would be nothing to stop similar investments being made in the future.

In March Provost Malcolm Grant admitted that it was necessary to extend UCL’s current
guidelines on socially responsible investment which so far only explicitly bans investment
in tobacco companies. The Provost proposed that UCL adopt the ‘Oxford model’ by setting
up a separate ‘Ethical Investment Review Committee’ to take responsibility for the issue.

According to minutes from College Council the parameters for investment set by this committee
might be either ‘negative’ (advising the avoidance of investments in particular areas) or ‘positive’ (advising the active seeking of opportunities to invest in areas seen as concordant with UCL’s mission).

No say for students

There has still been no formal consultation with students, surprising considering the vocal
nature of the student-led Disarm UCL campaign. After pressure from campaigners to investigate the possibilities of ethical investment, a report was produced last year by UCL alumnus Mr Edwin Glasgow QC and Sir Stephen Wall, advising the Provost on UCL’s future investment policy. However this report has been labelled confidential and remains
unavailable to students. Disarm UCL are sceptical about the effectivness of the ‘Ethical Investment Review Committee’.

The committee consists of two lay members, two academic staff and one student.
Disarm UCL and Amnesty International are pressing for equal student representation
which seems appropriate since the committee was established in response to long-term pressure from students. The activities of the EIRC are strangely secretive and it is unclear whether they
have met at all since being established early this year. The committee certainly did not report
to College Council in June, as it was mandated to do in March. Even if the committee does exist,
there is currently no student representation at all as the Sabbs confirmed that they hadn’t decided who would be appropriate, although the job it is likely to fall under the remit of the Environment and Ethics Officer. Education officer Ed Steward has said it would unlikely that the EIRC would be an open committee and according to its terms of
reference it is only mandated to meet twice a year.

Bureaucracy the enemy of action, eh?

Disarm UCL have repeatedly pointed to evidence that suggests ethical investment is not
only equally but more profitable than investments without ethical criteria. UCL has admitted that there may even be a financial penalty for continuing investment in companies that alienate
staff and students. According to a recent report by the UN and Mercer, ethical investment does
not bring a performance penalty and as well as offering companies a moral high ground they
also bring in profitable returns. While college continues to sit on the fence, shares in Cobham plc have been continuously pumping cash into the development of weapons and defence
systems. Rather than seizing the chance to be a true ‘global leader’, by delaying the decision UCL is now lagging far behind divestment at Oxford and Cambridge, whose arms shares the Provost once used to justify UCL’s. The change of policy in January could alter this if College not only divests its arms shares but adopts a holistic ethical investment policy that actively seeks out companies in accordance with UCL ‘global mission’.

Contributors: Christina Ravinet, Jenni Hulse, Sam Steddy, Gareth Spencer, Alex Ashman, Mark Hoffman, Ka Bradley, Toby Youell,
George Starling, George Potts,Thomas Rhoades, Adam Gillet, Katherine Harrison. Special Thanks to Josh Worth

Monday, 1 December 2008

Ethical Investment campaign week: great success !

The ethical investment campaign week last week was a great success.

Members of UCLU People and Planet society had a stall every day at lunchtime in the Union with loads of free food and cheap fair tade drinks. It was a great success and a good opportunity for students to find out more about ethical investment and to share their views. Thanks so much to everyone who helped to organize the stall. Fantastic work !

Members of UCLU Amnesty International Society used their weekly letter writing session to write to the Provost regarding ethical investment (ei) at UCL. Their core demands included: equal student representation on any future ei review committee, the ei policy to be made public, exclusion of all investment in arms companies and also the possibility of positive investments. Thanks to everyone for writing a letter. If you would like to write one, too - please get in touch:

The highlight of the week was the expert panel debate on Tuesday night. We had a great turn out of UCL students and alumni and pretty much filled up the whole lecture theatre. Thanks so much for coming everyone.

We had some really inspiring people on the panel and it was great to discuss ethical investment in general and at UCL in particular. The debate was very lively and there were quite a few different points of view and suggestions. Thank you in particular to Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council, for coming and letting us know about the progress of ethical investment at UCL. Sir Stephen acknowledged that UCL's move towards ethical investment had been driven forward by student campaigning and that UCL hopes to present an ethical investment policy in January 2009. The debate continued afterwards at a wine reception in the Economics department.

After the event, Isabel Kwok from Triodos bank, one of the experts on the panel, wrote to us saying: "Thank you (..) to everyone at UCL for welcoming me to take part in such an interesting debate. It really hardly scratched the surface of some very pertinent issues but its so pleasing to see such a strong turn out."

After the event many of the UCL alumni present decided to have another letter writing campaign to the Provost to ensure that ethical investment at UCL is a postive step forward and excludes arms investments. If you are a UCL alumni and would like to get involved please contact our coordinator Dan -

Thanks again to everyone who helped to make last week such a success ! You are all fantastic !

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Ethical Investment - more than just a bandwagon?

As part of UCL Union EI campaign week we would like to warmly invite you to our expert panel discussion on ethical investment at the UCL economics department.

Ethical Investment - more than just a bandwagon?

The ethical investment (EI) sector has surged in recent years, with a growing number of companies clamouring to display their ethical and green credentials. Will this trend survive the economic downturn? How effective are the different EI approaches? What could UCL's future ethical investment policy look like? What difficulties arise from trying to balance ethical and commerical considerations? And how much of all this is rhetoric?

Join our expert panel for a discussion to explore these questions
We are very fortunate to have secured a distinguished panel of experts:

Sir Stephen Wall (Chair of UCL Council); John Ditchfield (Company Director, Barchester Green Investments); Jack Taylor (Ecology Building Society); Isabel Kwok (Triodos Bank); Ruth Tanner (Campaigns and Policy Director, War on Want)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008 6.15 - 8 pm
at the Drayton Ricardo Lecture Theatre, UCL Economics department

The discussion will be followed by a wine reception.

Everyone welcome but please arrive early to secure your place.

Great to meet you all !

Just quickly to say the CAAT National Gathering went really well yesterday. We went to the universities network workshop and it was really inspiring to meet all the other students who campaign for ethical investment and against their unis involvement with the arms trade all over the UK.

Thanks for coming everyone. Great to meet you all !

More on CAATs universities network here.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Clean Investment - New Shareholding Data Released for 2008

New shareholding figures for 2008 have been obtained by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) for around one hundred higher education institutions in the UK, including all Russell Group members without an Ethical Investment Policy in place and 90% of Oxbridge colleges.

Here's the arms investments data for UCL from June 2008:

£869,825 invested in Cobham plc

Total Assets Invested (all shares): £92.3m
Arms shares as % of total investments: 0.9

Click here for more info on other London colleges

UCL students will attend a universities network workshop at the CAAT National Gathering in London this Saturday. We'll meet with ethical investment campaigners from other UK universities and plan the next ethical investment action day.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

EI week planning meeting

Joining fortnight is over. But EI week is less than a month away! Please make the meeting to organise for it if you can - 5pm this Tuesday, in the CSC meeting room in the Bloomsbury building.

We will be planning events and activities for the week starting 24th November, and assessing the direction future campaigning should take. If you haven't been involved before, don't be shy! Those who are interested but can't make the meeting, please send us an email.

see you Tuesday!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Tomorrow's meeting location

Sorry for the short notice! The room is Cruciform Foyer Seminar Room 1. That's tomorrow at 5, in the Cruciform Building on Gower St.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Meeting 5pm Wednesday 1st

Thanks to all of you who visited our stall at Freshers' Fayre! Hopefully we will see some of you at our first meeting of the academic year.

Though a lot of progress has been made last year, with UCL making moves to set up an Ethical Investment policy, we are not there yet! Come to the first meeting (room shortly to be confirmed) to find out how to get involved. Those who want to know more about the issues surrounding Ethical Investment are also welcome – come with any questions you want to ask. After a brief introduction and discussion we will start thinking about where the campaign should go from here, including a brainstorming for the Ethical Investment week in November.

Meeting at 5pm Wednesday 1st October – there will be refreshments (vegetarians and vegans catered for!)

Monday, 9 June 2008

Workshop on ethical investment campaigning at People and Planet summer gathering

Here's a message from UCLU People and Planet Society:

People & Planet will be holding their annual Summer Gathering between Sunday 29th June to Thursday 3rd July – four days of discussing campaigns, learning new skills, sharing experiences, and generally having fun.

On the agenda is a session on Ethical Investment. This a great chance for ethical investment campaigners up and down the country to discuss the ethical investment student network – a chance for various campaigners to meet face to face and share their ideas and hopefully successes.

We all know that the tide is turning against higher education investment in the arms trade but now is the time to capitalise on the all the recent hard ground work done by ourselves.

Obviously it would be great to have as many people & planet activists join us in the Oxfordshire countryside for the whole event, but if you can only come down for this one session, then there shouldn’t be any problems with that.

Click here for more info or e-mail us at:

TIMES HIGHER: UCL joins moves to cancel investment in arms trade

Article about UCL moving towards ethical investment in Times Higher Education !


Thursday, 5 June 2008

Meeting TODAY @ 3 pm

Come along to the last Disarm meeting for this academic year.

It will take place TODAY (Thursday, 5th June) at 3pm in the main room in the CSC (2nd floor, Bloomsbury theatre building).

We'll be planning the next steps for the campaign over the summer and for next year.

Everyone welcome !

It's been an excellent year for the Disarm UCL campaign. Highlights included Disarm UCL campaign week, two fantastic photostunts, extensive media coverage, linking up with other dedicated ethical investment campaigners at other unis and of course meeting Lord Joffe (Nelson Mandelas lawyer), who had some extremely encouraging things to say about our campaign !

We will be following the next UCL Council meeting on 18 June closely and the results of the sub committee for ethical investment, which is due to report at the meeting. Check this blog for details.

Thanks to everyone for your dedication, enthusiasm and creativity this year.

If you want to get involved next year but you can't make todays' meeting - drop us a line: and/or join us on facebook.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Disarm UCL campaigners win Student Union awards

This year not one, not two, but THREE dedicated Disarm UCL campaigners are receiving an award by the UCL Union Social Colours and Arts Awards Committee.

Second year undergrad Craig Griffiths (UCLU People and Planet Society) will be awarded the Social Colours award and MA student Ed Hood (UCLU Stop the War Society) and PhD student Sara Hall will both receive the centenerary award.


Awards are given to students, who have made an outstanding contribution to the UCL community. The award ceremony will take place on 28 May.
We at Disarm UCL are delighted that three of our members are receiving the awards. We believe that everyone involved in the Disarm UCL campaign deserves an award for an outstanding contribution to the UCL community: getting our university to move towards an ethical investment policy !


We will of course continue to campaign for UCL to ditch the shares in arms company Cobham, for UCL to adopt a meaningful ethical investment policy and for student and alumni representation on any committee dealing with the question of ethical investment at our university.

Join us !

Disarm UCL students and alumni on facebook !

To be added to our mailing list please drop us a line:

Thursday, 20 March 2008

UCL Council sets up a sub-committee on ethical investment

Dominique Fourniol, Head of Media Relations at UCL released the following information regarding the UCL Council discussion on ethical investment last week:

'At its meeting on 13 March, UCL Council received the report of a review, commissioned by the Provost, of UCL's approach to ethical standards in investment selection. Council agreed that, in the light of this review, UCL should further develop its socially responsible investment (SRI) policy - and is setting up a sub-committee of Council to take this work forward. The sub-committee is charged to submit to the next Council meeting in June specific proposals for the further development and implementation of SRI policy at UCL.'

We congratulate UCL Council on taking steps towards ethical investment.


Monday, 17 March 2008


We'll be meeting today at 6 pm in the CSC meeting room to discuss the decision of UCL Council to delay the adoption of an ethical investment policy and plan the next steps for the campaign.

Two anti-arms trade/ethical investment campaigners from Warwick university will be at the meeting as well and share their experiences about the National Day of Action for ethical investment at Warwick university.


Afterwards we'll be going out for END OF TERM DRINKS in the Union Bar. It's been a really good term of dedicated campaigning to Disarm UCL and everyone deserves a celebration :) - and it's Jen's 21st today so we have even more reason to celebrate :) Happy Birthday, Jen !

Saturday, 15 March 2008

UCL Council hestitates again to come clean on investment

Yesterday we received the following information from Jim Hunkin, who was present at the UCL Council meeting as Acting Finance and Administration Officer of UCL Student Union.

"The proposal that UCL has an ethical investment policy was indeed discussed at the UCL Council meeting yesterday. The committee took the view that the investment policy was a very complicated issue and thus decided that there needs to be more consideration before a decision can be reached. That’s pretty much what they agreed!"

The Disarm UCL campaign calls on UCL Council to adopt an ethical investment policy swilftly and give students and alumni a formal consultative role in the process.


Since the UCL Council meeting Jim Hunkin has been suspended by the UCL Union Sabbatical Officers, following a motion of no confidence.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Report on ethical investment to be presented to UCL Council tomorrow

Andrew Fernando, Education and Welfare Officer at UCL Student Union confirmed to me today on the phone that he believes that Edwin Glasgow will present his report on ethical investment at UCL to the UCL Council tomorrow.

We will post news on this here - so keep checking this site

The proposal at UCL comes weeks after Oxford University has published a "Report of the Working Group set up to consider the implementation of a Socially Responsible Investment Policy." Contact us at for a copy of the Oxford report.

The Disarm UCL campaign and UCL Union call on the UCL Council to:
  • make the timetable for developing an ethical investment policy clear and publicly available
  • give a formal consultative role for students and alumni in the process of developing and monitoring an ethical investment policy for UCL

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Arms dealers in the quad ! UCL students protest UCL's investment in arms trader Cobham

Just a quick one to say that the Disarm UCL protest in the quad went really well today. We dressed up as arms dealers and tried to sell toy guns and missiles to everyone around in the quad. Our opening line "Can we interest you in any missile components today ?" made people stop and talk to us about the ongoing arms investments.

The vast majority of students were outraged by the arms investments and signed our petition.

There were also many prospective students in the quad having a look round their future university. We talked to them about the arms investment. The future students were shocked to learn that UCL invests in the international arms trade.

One prospective student I spoke to told me: "This is outrageous. I will not let the arms investments stop me from coming to UCL. I want to join you to make sure UCL adopts an ethical investment policy."

Our protest today was part of a national action day for ethical investment. Students at seven other universities across the country also protested against the dirty investments of their unis.

I've just spoken to Barnaby Pace, a third year mechanical engineering student at Warwick on the phone: "It is really inspiring to be part of this national movement for ethical investment at UK universities" he told me. "Like you guys at UCL we also dressed up as arms dealers today. We got a lot of positive responses from students and staff. Most people believe that the international arms trade should have no place in a university. "

Well done to everyone at UCL and around the country who took part in the action day. It really is time for UCL and the other unis to come clean on investment !

The BBC reported about the national action Day.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Friday, 8 February 2008

Next meeting: MONDAY @ 6 pm

The next Disarm UCL meeting is on Monday, 11 February at 6 pm in the Clubs and Societies meeting room, 2nd floor, Bloomsbury theatre, Gordon Street.

We'll be discussing the next steps for the campaign around UCL. There has also been quite a lot of interesting new general information on ethical investment -so there'll be more info on that.

Click here for the latest piece in the FT on ethical investment.

See you Monday !

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

National Action Day for ethical investment

Students across the UK are getting together and are planning a National Action Day for ethical investment at their universities. For more info click here. If you want to find out what's happening at UCL contact us:

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Next meeting on MONDAY @ 6 pm

The next Disarm UCL meeting is on Monday, 28 January at 6 pm in the Clubs and Societies meeting room, 2nd floor, Bloomsbury theatre, Gordon Street.

We'll be planning a national action day on ethical investment and other exciting activities.

See you then !

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Meet us at Re-freshers fayre

Disarm UCL will be taking part in UCL Unions Re-freshers Fayre tommorrow (Thursday, 17 January) from 11 am - 4 pm in the Cloisters, Wilkins Building.

We will be based at the People and Planet stall so come and see us there, chat to us about actions against UCL's arms investments and sign our petition.

See you there !

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Download the Disarm UCL web banner

Support the Disarm UCL Campaign ! Display our banner on your blog or website:

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Next meeting: TODAY @ 6 pm

The next Disarm UCL meeting is today at 6 Clubs and Societies meeting room, 2nd floor, Bloomsbury theatre, Gordon Street.

Come and help us plan the Disarm UCL activities for this term. See you there !