University of Cambridge planning massive deal with the UAE, which jailed a UK doctoral student in 2018

Sarah McLaughlin
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

Excerpt: The University of Cambridge is currently under the spotlight over its plans for a £400m collaboration with the United Arab Emirates. While international academic partnerships are common, Cambridge’s deal with the UAE — reportedly the biggest ever donation to Cambridge — would be a hefty financial contribution from a country with a deeply concerning track record on human rights and freedom of expression.

Last week, The Guardian reported that internal university documents suggested the partnership with the UAE, which awaits approval from Cambridge’s general board, is marred by well-founded concerns about the ethics of initiating such a major deal with a country known for its human rights violations — including its 2018 arrest of UK doctoral student Matthew Hedges, who was held in poor conditions in solitary confinement for months, sentenced to life imprisonment on falsified spying charges, and only pardoned after sustained public pressure.