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People & Planet volunteers are starting to uncover the hidden connections between research and corporations at our Universities.

The laboratory is political - say Mitchell and Webb...

Freedom of information requests sent to 17 universities shed light on £50.7 million of funding from the UK’s five biggest oil, weapons, and pharmaceutical companies.

This includes research grants of £5.2 m from oil company BP and £2.7 m from weapons manufacturer BAE Systems. (Reclaim Research study, June 2010)

Interviews with PhD students and academics at Birmingham and Edinburgh tell a story about how this funding is influencing research. One participant said “funding bodies are increasingly looking for immediate, tangible benefits from research”, and another:

“We are being asked to justify the benefit to society [prioritising] more applied research […] which will tend to be more commercial.” (Reclaim Research study, June 2010)

The increased pressure on researchers to produce marketable research comes at a time when the Government is planning to make historic cuts to University funding. The Government is depending on corporations to fill the funding gap.

This research forms part of the Reclaim Research project which aims to uncover, challenge, and change the ways in which our Universities are working to create profit, instead of striving for truth.

People & Planet started the Reclaim Research project after students voted to “Reclaim Education” at the Forum in Cardiff, 2009.  It’s now entirely run by volunteers in the Reclaim Research Working Group.

What can you do?

  • Want to do stuff on research at your uni? Want help or have some ideas? Why not come along to the second Reclaim Research skype chat, 8pm on Sunday 21 November. You’ll need a cheapo microphone and to download Skype (for free) at www.skype.com. Then just add ricjameslander to your contacts.
  • If you’re one of the Universities listed, Reclaim Research already has some info about research funding at your Uni. You can discuss this in your local groups by downloading it from here (files correspond with two letter codes in brackets below).  University of Wales, Aberystwyth (Ab); University of St. Andrews (An); University of Bath (Ba); University of Birmingham (Bh); University of Bristol (Br); Cardiff University (Cd); University of Cambridge (Cm); University of Derby (Db); University of Durham (Dh); University of Edinburgh (Ed); Lancaster University (La); University of Loughborough (Lb); University of Leeds (Ld); Oxford Brookes University (Ob); University of Oxford (Ox); University of Sheffield (Sh); University College London (Ul).

This post was originally published on People & Planet News.

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