By Caribbean News Now contributor
GLASGOW, Scotland — In September, after a year-long study discovered that Glasgow University benefited from the equivalent of tens of millions of pounds donated from the profits of slavery, the university announced a programme of “reparative justice”, which will now include the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The report found that, although the university itself “adopted a clear anti-slavery position”, during the 18th and 19th centuries it received gifts and bequests from people connected to slavery.
Prof Sir Anton Muscatelli, the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “This report has been an important undertaking and commitment to find out if the university benefited from slavery in the past. Although the university never owned enslaved people or traded in the goods they produced, it is now clear we received significant financial support from people whose wealth came from slavery.”
The report concluded that the university benefited by between £16.7 million (US$21.4 million) and £198 million (US$254 million), depending on how the amount is updated to its present-day value.
Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, welcomed the report, saying: “I celebrate colleagues in Glasgow for taking these first steps and keenly anticipate working through next steps.”
According to Beckles, speaking recently in Jamaica, these “next steps” now include £200 million in reparation payments to the University of the West Indies.
He said the University of Glasgow and UWI are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding, and the term ‘reparatory justice’ is expected to be included.
The £200 million would be a combination of cash and kind.
“We are not on the street corners asking for handouts. We are looking for partnerships and development,” Beckles said.
One of the projects in which the University of Glasgow has reportedly shown interest involves research in chronic diseases in the Caribbean, including hypertension, diabetes, and childhood obesity.
“They are looking at the possibility of partnering with us and having a massive institute for chronic disease research that is going to prevent the proliferation of these diseases in the future,” Beckles noted.
He did not explain why the University of Glasgow had decided to confer the entire maximum current value of its slavery profits on the UWI.