Through their investments, contracts and partnerships, universities across the UK are complicit in violence against people who move across and within borders. Under the banner of Divest Borders, students  and staff across the country are resisting the border industry and demanding that academic institutions stand up for migrant justice. Sign our open letter to show your support for the campaign!

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Ending Border Violence Open Letter

Human rights abuses take place at borders around the world. People who move are subjected to hostile and degrading treatment at every stage of their journey. This is not a failure of the system – it is the system - hostile and violent by design. It is well-evidenced that the world's most powerful countries are pouring billions of public money into weapons and walls, recasting what is fundamentally a humanitarian crisis into a security threat that requires a militarised response.

The government’s hostile environment policies export bordering to the private sector, forcing doctors and teachers to act as immigration enforcement officers. Furthermore, the profit-making border industry has catalysed this trend by giving states the tools, technologies, and militarised equipment to perpetrate violence against racialised and vulnerable groups. Companies such as Serco, Airbus, Tui and Accenture make billions from the detention, deportation, surveillance and persecution of people who move, and in turn lobby for more aggressive policies to increase profits and misery. 

Universities across the UK currently hold huge investments in the border industry and hold contracts paying millions to these companies for on-campus services, providing those who profit from border violence with both funding and academic legitimacy. No university should be funding firms that profit from detention centres in which people are imprisoned, abused and neglected; surveillance systems which deny basic privacy rights; or equipment designed to hurt and even kill people seeking safety.

As academics and university staff, we expect our universities to be leading on the major social and environmental issues of our time. We join these institutions dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and the bettering of society. We become a constituent part of these institutions. They teach about rights and human dignity, while silently profiting from the same violence they claim to condemn. Our universities should be examining and exposing industries that systematically cause harm, not benefitting from them. 

We have the power to organise for dignity and justice but doing so requires all of us acting together in solidarity. Students and workers at universities have a crucial role to play in holding these institutions to account for complicity in harm. Academic communities cross borders. It is our responsibility to question and hold these institutions accountable. It is our responsibility not just to ensure our institutions are not complicit in profiting from misery, but to ensure that they contribute toward building a better world for all.

We must resist border violence and the industry that supports it. We demand border divestment for what borders historically represent, for the violence they perpetuate, and for the many ways our universities have profited from them through the centuries.

Therefore, we the undersigned call on higher education institutions to respect people's right to seek safety and to move, stay and thrive as they please. This requires universities to be transparent about their investments, and to break ties with all companies that strengthen the physical and virtual walls which violently control, track and prevent movement. 
 

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Signed by:

Justine Jenkins, Cardiff University

Professor Michaela Benson, Lancaster University

Dr Chris Rossdale, University of Bristol

Joan Haran, Cardiff University

Dr Lucy Mayblin, University of Sheffield

Dr Monish Bhatia, Birkbeck University of London, Lecturer in Criminology

Victoria Canning, University of Bristol, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Co-coordinator of European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control

Emma Patchett, University of Leeds

Dr Lisa Tilley, SOAS University of London

Dr Angela Sherwood, Queen Mary University of London, Lecturer in Law

Dr Tahir Zaman, University of Sussex

Dr Rachel Seoighe, University of Kent, Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Sita Balani, King's College London

Chris Taylor, University of Nottingham, Students' Union Education Officer 2021-22

Sharon Hartles, University of Strathclyde, Researcher

Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham

Dr Hanna Baumann, University College London

Professor Michael Rowe, Northumbria University

Dr Andy Aydin-Aitchinson, University of Edinburgh, Senior Lecturer, Criminology, School of Law

Dr Hannah Wilkinson, University of Keele, Lecturer in Criminology

Dr William McGowan, Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Andrew Williams, Cardiff University, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

Dr Maurice Stierl, University of Sheffield, Lecturer in International Relations

Conrad Moriarty-Cole, Goldsmiths University of London

Grace Tillyard, Goldsmiths University of London

Florence Platford, Goldsmiths University of London

Dr Neda Genova, University of Warwick

Muhammad Ali, University of Nottingham, SU Community Officer

Dr Aidan Mosselson Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

AJ Gooden, University of Nottingham,  Student Union Sports Officer

Dr Ala Sirriyeh, University of Lancaster

Professor Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow, Professor of Languages & Intercultural Studies; UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and Arts

Bella Hoogeveen, University of Glasgow, UNESCO Arts Hub co-ordinator

Professor Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol, Director of Migration Mobilities

Professor Bridget Byrne, University of Manchester

Brittnee Leysen, University of Glasgow,  Project Administrator with the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts

Dr Carmen Ramos Villar, University of Sheffield,

Dr Cetta Mainwaring, University of Glasgow, Lecturer

Dr Dan Fisher, University of Glasgow

Dr Clare Griffiths, University of Keele, Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Dan Godshaw, University of Bristol

Dr Hyab Yohannes, University of Glasgow

Dr Laura Connelly, University of Sheffield

Dr Meghan Tinsley, University of Manchester

Dr Ozge Ozduzen, University of Sheffield

Dr Teresa Piacentini, University of Glasgow

Emmaleena Käkelä, Queen Margaret University London

George Sullivan, University of Nottingham, SU President

Dr Hannah Lewis, University of Sheffield, Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Hannah Wadle Alhambra Medical University

Jamie Coates, University of Sheffield

Dr Joanne Britton, University of Sheffield

Dr Joe Turner, University of York

Dr Katie Bales, University of Bristol

Letizia Mollinedo, University of Manchester

Luan Cassal, University of Manchester

Lucy Potter, University of Sheffield

Luiza Leao Soares Pereira, University of Sheffield,  Lecturer in International Law

Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza Queen Margaret University London,  Senior Research Fellow

Meghan Dennis University of California, Berkeley,  Postdoctoral Researcher in Data Interpretation and Public Engagement

Dr Melissa Gatter, University of Sheffield

Dr Natasha Carver, University of Bristol

Dr Nicola De Martini Ugolotti, Bournemouth University

Parise Carmichael-Murphy, University of Manchester

Dr Patricia Nabuco Martuscelli, University of Sheffield

Dr Peter McMylor, University of Manchester

Professor Graeme Kirkpatrick, University of Manchester

Dr Rebecca Yeo, University of Bristol

Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, University of Manchester, Presidential Fellow

Ryan Lutz, University of Bristol

Dr Sadie Ryan, University of Glasgow

Samir Sweida-Metwally, University of Bristol

Dr Santiago Amietta, University of Keele

Dr Sarah Kunz, University of Bristol,  Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Dr Seb Franklin King's College London

Siobhan O'Neill, University of Manchester

SJ Cooper-Knock, University of Sheffield,  Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Sophia Woodman, University of Edinburgh

Stephen Hurt, Oxford Brookes University,  Reader in International Relations

Tesfalem H. Yemane, University of Leeds

Tess Hartland, University of Manchester 

To sign your name to the letter, please fill in your name, email and university affiliation here!

We are a student movement fighting to get our universities to divest from companies that profit from the border regime and from the human rights abuses inflicted on migrating people at borders in the UK and across the globe.

Find out more!