Caribbean Fever - Your ONLY destination to all things Caribbean and more
UWI to benefit from over US $250 million in support as part of reparations for slavery
Not so fast, says the University of the West Indies (UWI), there’s no agreement yet on the payment of £200 million (US$256 million) in reparations from the University of Glasgow.
UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles sought to make that clear yesterday, on the heels of a Jamaica Gleaner newspaper article on Sunday which indicated that the university in the United Kingdom had agreed to make the payments. He said that “while the quoted content of the story is correct, the headline that suggests an agreement to pay £200 million to The UWI is not.”
In a statement issued yesterday, Sir Hilary acknowledged that The University of Glasgow had admitted that the amount in fees, endowment and grants were received from Caribbean slave owners, but he stressed that deliberations on payment of reparations are still ongoing.
“The universities are working through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) built upon the principle of ‘reparatory justice’, but there is no ‘agreement’ about the repayment of £200 million to The UWI,” he said.
“In good faith, the two universities, ever since the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli indicated that his university seeks to be excellent and ethical, have had excellent conversations about how the University of Glasgow can contribute to cleaning up the colonial legacies of slavery that are holding back the region.”
“A working team has been established, which has made many reparatory justice submissions, but is yet to complete its deliberations,” he added.
A report entitled ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’, published recently by the university, reveals that it benefited directly from the slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries to the tune of almost £200 million in today’s money. It revealed that 16 bursaries, endowments and mortifications donated to the institution between 1809 and 1937 had a direct link to profits from slavery.
The university has announced that it has launched a wide-ranging and ambitious reparative justice programme that is based on the findings of more than two years of research. In addition, it announced that it intends to implement programmes and projects that will provide scholarships and exchange programmes for Jamaican and other Caribbean students through its links with The UWI.
Sir Hilary, who was one of three external advisors to the ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’ report, had spoken about the issue during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme ‘Insight’, where he said that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow had opened up the university’s records, and that showed a “massive influx” of grants and endowments from Jamaica.
According to the university head, who recently returned from the UK, the university “recognized that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.”
The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Glasgow have to come to an agreement that will see the Caribbean institution benefit from £200 million (US $256 million) worth of reparations linked to slavery.
Vice Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, revealed recently during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme, Insight, that his university and the Scottish institution were currently drafting a memorandum of understanding that would see a combination of cash and kind support for the programmes of the regional university.
This action comes two months after the University of Glasgow published the ground-breaking report “Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow” that revealed that 16 bursaries, endowments and mortifications donated to the institution between 1809 and 1937 had a direct link to profits from slavery. One of the listed benefactors included a former rector of the Scottish university, Robert Graham, who was a plantation owner in Jamaica and owned and benefited from slaves for over 40 years.
Beckles, who was one of three external advisors to the report, said in the interview that the University of Glasgow recognized that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value (US $256 million) was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.
The UWI head, who recently returned from the UK, said that once Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the Vice Chancellor for the University of Glasgow, opened up their records, they showed a ‘massive influx’ of grants and endowments from Jamaica.
Beckles said that 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,” said the historian, who also serves as Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.
The collaborations between UWI and the University of Glasgow is just one of the actions being undertaken by the Scottish institution as part of its “reparative justice programme” that has come as a response to the findings of the study.
The University of Glasgow, which dates back to 1451, has announced that it also plans to increase the racial diversity of students and staff and to reduce the degree attainment gap, while also creating an interdisciplinary centre for the study of historical slavery and its legacies, including modern slavery and trafficking.