A London university has called for all UK universities which benefited from slavery to contribute to a £100 million reparation fund.
Geoff Thompson, chair of governors at the University of East London, said that the fund should be used to help students from ethnic minorities, calling it “ethical and right”.
The call comes after the University of Glasgow revealed that it had received collective donations of up to £198 million in today’s money from those who had profited from the slave trade.
The university management have now announced a reparative justice programme, including a centre for the study of slavery and a memorial or tribute on university grounds in the name of the enslaved.
The University of Glasgow is unlikely to have been the only university in the country that benefited from slave trade profits. Other cities such as Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester have also had close financial ties with the international slave trade that became illegal in 1807.
Mr. Thompson said that his proposed fund was a “historic opportunity to invest in those who cannot afford or cannot see themselves graduating with a life-changing qualification”.
Universities that were founded after the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, such as UoM’s predecessor Manchester Mechanics Institute (1824), may still have benefited from donations by people who profited from the slave trade.
Similar debates are taking place in the United States, where slavery was not fully abolished until 1865. Georgetown University has given extra admissions support to descendants of a group of slaves sold by the university in the 1800s.
Harvard University unveiled a commemorative plaque for slaves who had lived and worked at the university.
Mr. Thompson encouraged all universities to look into their past, stating: “Every university has historians, archivists, and researchers who can help institutions inform them about their past.”
“It is about how seriously we take the past to inform our future, and what we can do to help change lives”.