5.3 University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh recently changed its policy on arms investments in response to a five-year responsible investment campaign led by students.

In May 2015, protesters from People and Planet occupied Charles Stewart House, the university’s main financial office, to demand that the university fully divest from arms and fossil fuels. In response to this pressure, the university announced in October 2015 that it “has not and will never” invest in “controversial armaments”. The university’s definition of controversial armaments includes nuclear weapons but, at this time, the university still held shares in Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce has  been involved in the project to design Britain’s new nuclear-armed submarines and will manufacture the submarines’ nuclear reactors.

The student campaigners responded that this policy was “nowhere near good enough”, as it still permitted investment in lethal weapons. The university continued to hold shares in drone company Meggit plc and Martin Marietta, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, as well as the shares in Rolls Royce.

In February 2016, the university changed its policy, announcing that it would no longer invest in coal or tar sands or in companies that get 20% or more of their revenue from arms sales. In April 2016, the university told student campaigners that it no longer held investments in arms companies. A list of investments as at January 2018 shows that the University of Edinburgh has no direct holdings in the companies listed in section 2. However, as it stands, the policy still allows investment in companies which get less than 20% of revenue from arms sales.

University of Edinburgh students wishing to get involved in the divestment campaign can contact People and Planet Edinburgh.