Universities, the military and the UK's security needs

Summary of a seminar by Dr Chris Langley, Principal Researcher, SGR at the 'Power & the Academy' Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 6 - 8 April 2009

Universities are a pivotal part of an open and democratic society. They have been the source of independent expertise in science, engineering and technology, as well as centres of learning, research and teaching for centuries. However, their role has been changed over the past twenty years by UK governments in light of the perceived needs of business, and they now have a predominantly economic focus. This compromises their independence, openness and expertise. Those in universities are increasingly seen as the means of reducing the costs of industrial research and development, a role of especial concern for society when university researchers participate in the development of weapons and the high-technology infrastructure demanded by the modern military. As a means of opening up a seminar discussion I will describe the many UK military-university partnerships and explain why this situation should be of grave concern to us all and to how we frame our national security strategy in light of the many threats which the world faces.