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Proposal for boycott of Israeli academia

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The LSE Council, the governing body of the School, yesterday (Tuesday 26 June) considered the University and Colleges Union (UCU) resolution for local branches to debate the possibility of an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

Although no boycott has yet been called, Council fully endorsed the statements by Howard Davies, Director of the School, and by the Russell Group of universities, to the effect that, were such a boycott to be called for by the UCU, it would be contrary to the values of freedom of speech and freedom of academic enquiry which are essential to universities' missions.

Council noted that LSE's core institutional values include a commitment to intellectual freedom. In the Strategic Plan, the School expressly defends and promotes intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, including the right of all staff and students and the wider LSE community to express a diverse range of views in the pursuit of understanding and knowledge. The School regards these values as fundamental.

Notes for editors

LSE Director Howard Davies said on 31 May: 'I fully support the view of the Russell Group that a boycott of Israeli academia would be contrary to the values of freedom of speech and freedom of academic inquiry that are essential to universities' missions.'

On 30 May the Russell Group of the UK's research-intensive universities strongly condemned the motion passed by the University and College Union for branches to debate the Israeli boycott.

Professor Malcolm Grant, Chairman of the Russell Group and President and Provost of UCL, said: 'We reject outright the call for an academic boycott. It is a contradiction in terms and in direct conflict with the mission of a university. It betrays a misunderstanding of the academic mission which is founded squarely on freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. Any institution worthy of the title of university has the responsibility to protect these values, and it is particularly disturbing to find an academic union attacking academic freedom in this way. The Russell Group universities will uphold academic freedom by standing firm against any boycott that threatens it.'

31 May 2007

Background on LSE position

The School is aware that this issue is of wide interest. This is not the first call for a boycott of Israeli academia. The LSE Council has discussed previous calls and has not supported them on any occasion.

For further developments since this posting, see the page Further details| - a Q&A page including the text of letters between the Director of LSE and the Palestinian Society.

Updated 26 November 2007

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