Saturday, December 13, 2008

Special NO Ethics Award

Special NO Ethics Award ...shame on the OU
Does quality matter? Does working with arms dealers matter? Does teaching mercenaries matter?
The no ethics award goes to the Open University for joining the Metrix consortium ! even when costs were reduced by cutting the length of training courses by 25% and reducing them! Defence minister Bob Ainsworth announced that the MOD was ploughing ahead, he pointed out that "considerable progress had been made in driving down costs..This will involve cutting the length of training courses by 25% through "compression, rationalisation and harmonisation". Officially that means cutting waste but those involved in defence training say there is nothing like the scope for 25 percent cuts.

Then Charles Barrington, the chairman of Metrix, said the consortium and the Ministry of Defence had been able to cut costs. That had been achieved in part by reducing the number of courses that will be offered.

Quotes to remember 'benefits' to the MOD of transferring risk to the private sector? Derek Twigg MP, Under Secretary of State for Defence, talks to PSCA International's Matthew D'Arcy about what lies ahead in bringing a new flexible approach to learning through the Defence Training Review. “Partnership with the private sector does give us flexibility, and this is the key point here, to decrease or increase student throughput. The partner will be able to generate third party income from spare capacity and also dispose of surplus capacity.

It also allows for a very important part of the role for industry to bring private sector management expertise and the ability to include significant capital investment at this stage. It is really about delivering a modern and flexible learning environment that will be fit for our service personnel of the future.”
Facilities key to defence trainingThe PPP Journal Issue 56 - Thursday, April 12, 2007

See Welsh Politican of year special awards

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Classified targets

The letter below appears in today's Times Higher. The article commented on is set out below that,

Classified targets

20 November 2008

John Holford's article "There is a wider purpose for universities than 'serving the economy'" (13 November) rightly draws critical attention to the Government's compression of the definition of higher education users to an increasingly narrow band within the spectrum of stakeholders - excluding staff representatives while including employer representatives in its "consultation group".

The approach is more worrying when considered alongside the comment by Christine King, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University, in the same issue on the Government's review of the part-time student sector, that "the extent of demand remains uncertain" for "higher education qualifications that are co-funded by employers".

Could the answer be right under our noses, among employers in one of the UK's world-class sectors - military armaments? After all, the co-chair of the consultation group, Sir John Chisholm, is executive chair of QinetiQ, a defence development company whose labours are reportedly 80 per cent "secret squirrel" work for the Ministry of Defence, so secret it is not open to commercial application.

There are worrying signs of the increasing militarisation of UK universities via secret and secretive contracting and partnership arrangements. Such narrow "consultation" exercises as those Holford highlights do not serve to allay legitimate fears within academia of what may happen to free debate and the flow of information within a higher education sector potentially increasingly co-funded under such circumstances.

Roger Rees, The Open University (in a personal capacity).
There is a wider purpose for universities than 'serving the economy'

13 November 2008

John Holford fears that the Denham 'user group' may be unaware of Tawney's ideal of education's generous, humane and liberal spirit

In his speech to the Universities UK Annual Conference in September, Secretary of State for Higher Education John Denham announced the formation of a "user consultation group" on higher education.

Some have voiced concern about this ("Academics and diversity in short supply on task forces", 16 October).

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, was rightly perplexed at the exclusion of academics, while Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, pointed to a "conflict of interest" in one of the group's joint chairmen also sitting on the Confederation of British Industry's higher education task force.

But few have asked: "What does this group tell us about John Denham's vision for higher education?"

Of course, we no longer find it strange that a Labour Secretary of State, when appointing what amounts to an advisory committee, includes no representation of labour whatever. In our brave New Labour world, few question that people's interests are best articulated by their employers.

Even if the purpose of higher education were reducible to furthering the interests of business, excluding representation of working people would make little sense. But as the nation's leaders grapple with the fallout from their infatuation with all things corporate, it is time to imagine again a wider purpose for universities than "serving the economy".

R. H. Tawney, historian, educator and democratic socialist, thought education should be of a "generous, humane and liberal spirit". So it should.

The members of Denham's user group may, for all I know, share Tawney's humane view of education. But he has appointed them as representatives of particular sectors and has asked them to advise him on what "a world-class higher education sector would look like in 10-15 years'" time to support their needs.

We are justified, therefore, in asking: whose needs are they likely to articulate? How broad is their vision of "world-class higher education" likely to be?

The group's co-chairman, Sir John Chisholm, now chairs the Medical Research Council and is executive chairman of QinetiQ, previously part of the publicly owned Defence Evaluation and Research Agency.

No doubt he is an able manager; he is certainly a canny investor. Following its privatisation, Chisholm's £129,000 shareholding rose to £26 million. What balance between public service and private profit will he model for higher education? What vision of universities' role in their communities will he articulate?

"To get rich is glorious," said Deng Xiaoping, the late Chinese leader. The recently resurrected Peter Mandelson famously agrees. So, no doubt, does Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. By this criterion, the members of Denham's user group will do universities proud: our "users" are the CEOs of Pearson Publishing and of "a small business in the creative sector".

The director of the National Theatre is there to reflect "art and culture", and the "public-sector viewpoint" will be provided by the chief of the London Development Agency's Olympic Legacy Directorate. Universities' users, it seems, consist only of representatives of glittering business and cultural elites.

No "user" will speak for local communities; none for schools or hospitals; none for the old; none for charities or the voluntary sector; none for social movements; none for ethnic minorities; none for ordinary working people; none even for local authorities.

All this is, I regret, in keeping with recent government approaches to the role of higher education. Universities must not just play a part in "driving up" skills: serving the economy is now their raison d'etre.

Only the bravest university vice-chancellors and university councils with the best endowments try to implement broader, more humane visions. They receive scant support from government.

A recent case in point is the ending of public funding for adult students taking "equivalent or lower-level qualifications" - unless, of course, they enrol on specified (largely vocational) courses.

We may hope that Denham's user group will take a broader and more humane view than their backgrounds suggest is likely. Perhaps, as the wealthy pocket their City bonuses and ordinary people pay the price, he will consider whether the rich and powerful really have all the best tunes.

Perhaps he will remember that a Labour Government should speak for the poor, the excluded, the weak - workers by hand and by brain - as well as Mandelson's messmates. Perhaps a vision of R. H. Tawney and other earlier educationists will come to him in a dream. Let us hope.
Postscript :

John Holford is Robert Peers professor of adult education, University of Nottingham.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Will OU become a target?

Go to work in a flak jacket? The militarisation of the OU

Armed patrols for St Athan?

Is this new police force with "armed patrols" is to be deployed in the Vale at Aberthaw Power Station - you'll remember the protests that stopped work there just months ago? And would St Athan camp could be covered by the same force, if the Metrix scheme comes to make it into a likely terrorist target?
Is the Civil Nuclear constabulary to be expanded
into a critical national infrastructure police force?

Anti-terror patrols secretly stepped up at power stations Daily Mail 11th August

Massive expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary is being secretly planned to protect Britain’s most vulnerable terrorist targets.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that it will be transformed into the Critical National Infrastructure Police and mount armed patrols around all key installations nationwide, including power stations, phone and computer networks, oil and gas pipelines, ports and airports.

Secret negotiations also include taking over responsibility for protecting Government buildings and key economic targets.

Drax in Yorkshire may be one of the power stations guarded by the force

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is already responsible for guarding all nuclear power stations and other nuclear installations.

The 800-strong force also protects nuclear material when it is moved around the country and investigates any attempt to steal or smuggle atomic material. Its officers are routinely armed and it has 17 regional headquarters, mainly at nuclear plants around the UK.

Richard Thompson, a former Foreign Office counter-terrorism expert who has served in Iraq, took over the force in June last year and has been carrying out strategic reviews to prepare for its expanded role.

The intention is that the force, which has a ?50million-a-year budget, will have more officers and take over policing other power stations, critical telecom buildings, gas installations, fuel dumps, airports and other key terror targets.

Richard Thompson's force will guard power stations across the UK

It is also expected to take over protecting Britain’s main sea ports, some of which have their own tiny forces, such as Dover Port Police which has 50 officers.

The Critical National Infrastructure force is expected to be announced as part of Security Minister Lord West’s review of Britain’s preparedness for terrorism.

He has been focusing on security around chemical, biological and nuclear material, which terror groups such as Al Qaeda are trying to obtain to use in attacks. Last night, Lord West acknowledged that expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s role was ‘one of a number of options available’.

Britain already has an intelligence agency, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which is overseen by MI5, looking at terror threats to key installations and businesses.

In his first annual report, released last month, Mr Thompson said: ‘The role of the constabulary is shaped by the persistent and uncompromising challenge of the terrorist threat.’

He added that the force was doing more ‘to integrate ourselves further into the national counter-terrorist architecture’.

Spy Blog - Watching Them, Watching Us
Is this Critical National Infrastructure thing is only the fig leaf. They have found a compliant Chief Officer who will do his bit to form a national Gendarmerie, so that the UK can then join the European Gendarmerie Force.

House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 23 Feb 2007 (pt 0008) Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the European Gendarmerie Force was established; for what reason the UK

And then they can have their new toys like the "anti-aircraft missiles and heavy machine guns, armoured fighting vehicles, attack helicopters etc" that you question earlier. And my betting is that they will "discover" that they do not need to pass primary legislation to do it, possibly not even a statutory instrument. As you say, this will be the Dept of BERR's own police force. Not to be outdone, I would also guess that the Home Office will attempt a major broadening of their direct national force - the borders police or whatever they are called these days.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The St Athan Defence Training Academy: the future of British education?

latest SGR Newsletter : Autumn *2008*
The St Athan Defence Training Academy: the future of
British education?

Stuart Tannock discusses the disturbing implications
of the Ministry of Defence's new multi-billion pound
training academy.

Britain's largest education and technology investment
project in recent memory has been developing quietly
under the public's radar. It is time we paid attention.
In January 2007, the Ministry of Defence awarded an £11
billion contract to the private Metrix Consortium
(see Box) to build a massive new training centre for the
British armed forces at the village of
St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

St Athan, which is expected to become one of the world's
biggest military training establishments when it opens
in 2013, will provide specialist training in engineering,
communications and information systems technology
to all three services of the British military. For the
first time, it will centralise in one location military
training that is currently done in sites
across the country.

Supporters of St Athan emphasise that the Academy will
use state-of-the-art technology and training methods
such as neurolinguistic programming, e-learning technologies,
computer-based training, computer-aided instruction,
emulation, simulation and Web-based systems. St Athan, they
claim, "breathes life into the classroom of the future
model which for many years now has been anticipated by
futurologists and thought leaders in the education community."
St Athan represents a "model for training in this
country" that will enable Britain to realise Lord Leitch's
vision of gaining "world leadership in skills."

Why should any of this worry us? There is the fundamental
question of why we should support such a massive outlay of
taxpayer money on a military that is still involved in
fighting an illegal war in Iraq – and in a country,
Britain, that already boasts the world's second-largest
military budget.Beyond this, St Athan represents three
developments which should be attracting extended public
and political debate, but which instead have
received little attention, beyond a small, local campaign
against the Academy that sprung up in Wales after the
project was first announced.

First, St Athan is part of a political project of
privatising the British armed forces, and turns over
responsibility for military training to a private, for-profit
consortium. At a time when, across the Atlantic, US Congress
is holding investigations into abuses perpetrated by private
military companies such as Blackwater in Iraq, Britain is
rushing headlong down the same path of military privatisation
that the USA has gone down before. This privatisation,
moreover, makes the British government a direct
partner of one of the world's largest and most controversial
arms dealers,Raytheon, which is a core member of the St
Athan Metrix Consortium.

Second, St Athan represents a major leap forward in Britain's
participation in the global arms trade. The Metrix business
model for maximising profits at St Athan is to maximise the
amount of training it provides, through serving not just the
British military but militaries from around the world.
Between 2002 and 2005, the Ministry of Defence provided
military training to more than 12,000 personnel from 137
countries, many with poor human rights records. With
St Athan, this trade promises only to increase.

Third, St Athan represents another step up in the ongoing
militarisation of British education. The Open University
whose Vice-Chancellor, Brenda Gourley, claims that
universities should be "beacons that reflect the very
best of which the human spirit is capable" – is a
direct partner in the Metrix Consortium. Schools around
the Vale of Glamorgan are making plans to train local
youth for jobs at the St Athan Academy, while colleges and
universities across South Wales, which have already
been extensively militarised over the past decade,
are exploring new Academy contract tie-ins.

Indeed, one reason why we shouldn't expect Cardiff
University, the premier institution of research and
learning in the region, to lead any critical investigation
into the St Athan project is that, in 2005, it signed
a long-term strategic research partnership with QinetiQ,
another core member of the Metrix Consortium.

Promoters of the St Athan Defence Training Academy
claim that it represents the future of education
in Britain. Without public investigation, debate and
critique of St Athan and other military research
and education projects across the country, there is
a strong possibility that this will come true.
If it does, it will not be for the better of Britain
or anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mark Thomas & St Athan debate film banned

OU bans film!

OUBUCU Ethics Group The Group was established by the Branch Executive in February 2007 to promote discussion and debate on the application of ethical guidelines to the University's partnership activities. It campaigns for the application of ethical guidelines to partnerships because: -

  • the University should be committed to social justice in practice
  • it enhances the reputation of the OU brand
  • it makes long-term business sense
  • societal and organisational awareness of ethical, environmental and corporate responsibility is spiralling upwards
  • it's just plain right !
Does it matter from the Open University's Income comes from? So they organised a meeting to discuss this and following it
The campaign went to Milton Keynes as guests of UCU and had an opportunity to speak to the audience after Mark Thomas who was talking more generally about the arms trade. The custom is that the event is filmed and made available to staff and union members who where elsewhere at the time however the OU have apparently stopped and banned the film from been shown anywhere - so sensitive they are to criticism or discussion on the issue. Derek Prior - with the grand title of director of communications - was seen lurking in the background - the OU very own speech police (pr/spin person) ! I don't think he liked his letter being quoted!

What did the Vice Chancellor Prof Brenda Gourley have to say in March 2007 at the opening of the ou posh new offices in Cardiff??
"we are proud to have contributed to Wales’ latest success, one of the biggest ever investments it has attracted. Earlier this year the UK Government announced their decision to site a new defence training academy at St Athan here in the Vale of Glamorgan. As a long-term partner in the successful Metrix consortium, we are already hard at work with our partners to turn the MoD’s vision into the reality of a military training centre of excellence. The initiative is expected to create around 5,000 jobs and bring around £58m to the economy annually - a massive boost for Wales and a perfect example of what partnership working can deliver."...whoops!

The Open University branch of the University and College UnionAddress: OUBUCU The Open University Room 015, Wilson C Walton Hall Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, Tel: Email: 01908 653069 ...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Should the OU be involved in the Arms Trade?

Does it matter from the Open University's Income comes from?

UCU asks in 'the spark' may 2008
Q. is the branch agaisnt partnerships with the armed forces?
A. UCA nationally and at Branch level , does not oppose students from the armed forces. The Metrix [partnership is different. It raises controversial issues regarding privitisation and the business methods of those we enter into partnerships with. One of the company's has been involved in a series of bribery and industrial espionage cases and another has been condemned for applying 'racial sterotypes' to trecruiting (and sacking) staff. Involvement with Metrix associates the University with the murky world of arms trading. what is the brand message there?
Q. what are the guidelines about
A. The guidelines focus on four main areas - arms trade, animal; welfare, ecological impact and corporate responsibility (including human rights) They set basic requirements that organisations wishing to partner with the University should meet. rather than 'reinvent the wheel' the guidelines are based on those successfully used by the co-operative bank.
They are set out as proposals in a preliminary Branch document which will be presented to senior management in the next month.

Q. Are other universities doing this?
A. while the OU heads into partnerships with arms manufactureres, other universities are going in the other direction. University College London has decided to withdraw all investment from arms companies. St Andrews University and Pembroke college, Cambridge have already done so. UCL has said it is conscious of the negative effect arms investment may have on alumni donations. New Hall and St Catherines colleges, Cambridge, have divested from companies doing business with the Sudanese government. The more 'commercial' universities become, the more strategic partnerships will come under the media spotlight, and influence the attitudes their stakeholders take to them.

Rays from the Gods

Metrix Shambles - Media, Ministry and Top Brass Question furure of OU privatisation partnership

Ethics and partnerships, where is the OU ethical policy?

From Society Matters
Ethics and partnerships: the OU and the St Athan Military Academy
The Open University now boasts a Centre for Ethics and includes ethical teaching in its curriculum, but it does not yet have an ethical policy guiding its corporate partnerships. The recent link between the OU and the Metrix
consortium has led to protests in Wales and may result in far wider ramifications for the institution
I too believe that universities and their staff should aim to encourage students to ‘think ethically’ and equip them to
confront the great dilemmas and paradoxes of our time. Vice Chancellor Brenda Gourley Independent Open Eye, 1 July 2008

Life at the OU in Wales took a new turn recently, with demonstrations against the University’s involvement in a military training consortium taking place outside our building. Over the past year, the ‘Stop the St Athan Military Academy Campaign’ has been publicizing and attacking the OU’s involvement in the Metrix consortium, which followed its success in being awarded a government contract to run a training agency for all of the British armed forces at St Athan in South Glamorgan.
The OU is a member of the consortium, along with some major arms manufacturers, including QinetiQ and Raytheon. Raytheon
manufactures Tomohawk and Patriot missiles, and missiles capable of carrying cluster bombs; QinetiQ hit the headlines with
criticisms by the National Audit Office of the process whereby, in the privatization of DERA, the responsible civil servants became
multi-millionaires overnight.
Thousands of training jobs from around the UK will be moved to St Athan, just outside Cardiff, where up to 5,500 jobs will be
created. This figure is one that fluctuates and is contested, but it is claimed that the St Athan Military Academy, costing £15 billion,
will be the largest ever public-sector project in Wales. The project is welcomed by local MPs and Welsh Assembly
Members, by the Welsh Assembly Government and by all of the major political parties in Wales. Nonetheless, several Plaid Cymru
members of the National Assembly for Wales have spoken against it, and there are a small but vociferous number of people in Wales opposed to the militarization of the economy. Anti-militarism has been a core element of the nationalist struggle since its inception, and is a perspective shared by many key figures in public life.
Does this new partnership fit with the mission of the OU – to create and enhance life opportunities? There are concerns about any
institution’s associations with the arms trade. Jennie Lee, one of the main founders of the OU, was firm in her stand against arms, in that she was against the UK acquiring a nuclear deterrent.
Various UK universities (including St Andrews and several Cambridge colleges) have adopted ethical investment policies.
University College London, under pressure from students and alumni, is among those that are considering doing so. The School of
Oriental and African Studies and Goldsmiths, University of London and Bangor University have withdrawn investment from arms
companies. The OU has still to decide on whether it needs to devise clear and fully transparent ethical guidelines to steer its business partnerships.
Other institutions have been more forthright. The Norwegian state pension fund, which includes its petroleum fund, and Liverpool City Council are among the bodies that have disinvested from Raytheon, on the basis of its implication in war crimes and killing civilians in Iraq and Lebanon.
Of course, military technology and the armed forces are involved in defence as well as attack, and there are plenty of us who subscribe to notions of ‘just wars’. But the plan is to train not just British troops, but armed forces from around the world. The idea of training troops for the Burmese government is more controversial than training British troops.
Others do not share this political or moral concern, but object on pragmatic grounds: that the OU risks tainting its brand. In a sense,
the greatest asset of the OU is its brand. The brand isn’t just a logo but is a reputation, and the reputations of organizations increasingly are linked to their ethical and environmental policies and practices.
We only have to look to Nike, McDonald’s, Tesco, the Body Shop and the Co-operative Bank to see the centrality of ‘the brand’ to
business performance. Across the economy and around the world there is a huge growth in the ‘corporate social responsibility’ agenda. In one sense, this is recognized by the OU, which recently launched a Level 1 course on Ethics in Real Life and takes very seriously its commitment to development in Africa. At the same time, it is in partnership with the World Bank to develop a private university in Pakistan, in collaboration with Tesco regarding using clubcard points to pay course fees (see Society Matters No.10), and is now linked with the Metrix consortium.

This suggests the need for an ethical, environmental and corporate esponsibility framework for the OU’s relationships with other
organizations. With its deservedly high standing, the OU brand is of enormous benefit to us all. The good reputation of the OU is an asset and needs to be defended actively.
In response to the University’s involvement in the Metrix consortium, the Open University Branch of the University and
College Union (OUBUCU) has formulated a set of ethical guidelines to be applied to the future selection of its strategic partnerships with external organizations. The guidelines set out criteria regarding the arms trade, ecological sustainability, animal welfare and corporate responsibility to ‘filter’ out partnerships which may commercially damage the University’s brand. At the time of going to press, a paper setting out the arguments for their implementation has been presented to the Vice-Chancellor and the Branch awaits a response to its suggestion that a forum be established between union and management to discuss the guidelines. The union believes the University cannot be financially successful in the future unless it is committed to an ethical approach to partnerships.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anti-metrix campaigners talk to OU staff at Milton Keynes

Anti-metrix campaigners at Milton Keynes

Campaigners took the message to Milton Keynes - with the support of Mark Thomas - to highlight the key role the OU is proposing to play in the privatised military academy in bed with arms dealers & war profiteers Ratheon, Serco, Qinetiq, and incompetent EDS... and to ask what happened to ethics? What is the OU ethical stance?

Mark Thomas is in Cardiff
- Tue, 7 October (19:00) - Borders Bookshop - CF10 1AH - Talk and book signing.

see his website for more information..

Mark's new book, "Belching Out the Devil" will be published on 25th September 2008. It is available for pre-order from Amazon

Mark new book is about Coca Cola. As many of you may know Coca Cola bottlers in Colombia face allegations that the plant managers colluded with paramilitaries to bring about the deaths of trade unionists working for the Coke plants.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Private Eye on Metrix plans

Private Eye articles ...
metrix-miscalculation can be viewed here .

Metrix reloaded! The full article can be viewed here.

A further article reports on how Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals such as the Defence Training Review have been used to hide roughly £200bn of future spending in order to balance the books. The full article can be viewed here.

Article from Private Eye on Geoff 'Bull' Hoon crazy scheme
17 may

Raytheon training to sell more arms

Shows how Raytheon want to use training as a means of expansion amd arms sales.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Raytheon 'war profiteers'?

UVM anti-war group pushes divestment, VT - 13 May 2008

Halliburton, General Dynamics and Raytheon were asked last week to respond to their characterization as "war profiteers." Raytheon did not reply. ...

why is the OU so willing to get in to bed with War profiteers?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

students ban military - come on OU - BAN MILITARY

Student Power: A Microcosm of right-wing manoeuvres and how they were defeated by the left By Melanie MacDonald Tues, 29 April 2008

Recently, The University College London Students’ Union (UCLU) voted to ban The Officer Training Corps (OTC) from recruiting at union organizedevents like Freshers' Fair. The ban has caused quite a stir on and offcampus, making the front cover of the ‘Evening Standard’ with the bannerheadline, "Students Ban Military". Speaking about those in opposition tothe motion, UCLU General Secretary, Samantha Godwin, said: “they know thatif replicated elsewhere, it would become a really effective method ofprotesting against the war.

See the Motion in full here: Troops out of UCL motion

Thursday, May 1, 2008

open university spin


Academy link aim for new school plan

Apr 8 2008 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo

LONG-AWAITED plans for a much-needed new school in Llantwit Major will be drawn up this summer with the aim of helping to prepare pupils for jobs at the multi-billion-pound Defence Training Academy in St Athan.
(What Jobs?)
The redevelopment plan at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School is part of a multi-million- pound school investment strategy
Consultants are carrying out design work for a new school at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and a planning application is expected to be put before councillors later this year.
Meanwhile, initial design work to replace St Cyres Comprehensive School, in Penarth, has started with a full scheme due to be ready by the second half of next year.
Bryan Jeffreys, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s director of learning and development, said: “At Llantwit Major, initial design work is planned for later this year.
“The intention is to link the redevelopment of Llantwit Major school with the roll-out of the Ministry of Defence Training Academy at St Athan. The School Investment Strategy is a priority.”
The role of schools, colleges and universities in providing skilled workers for the academy is seen as vital to its success.
However, academy opponents have called for the Open University in Wales to sever links with the academy. The Open University is part of the Metrix consortium, which made the successful academy bid.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Protest demo at Open University Cardiff Office

Big brother hassles Anti-metrix - St Athan protesters Anti-Metrix protest march to demonstrate opposition against the St Athan privatised military academy. PCS where there to support the staff whose jobs are threatened and show opposition to the protest - Cynefin y Werin members - CND Cymru and CAAT supporters, Cymdeithas y Cymod and Church, Chapel and other faith representatives. Along with Green Party protestors and speakers Jill Evans Plaid MEP, Davy McAuley of the Raytheon 9 and stop the war.

In an attempt to silence the protesters they were banned from marching through Cardiff city centre as police used the the public order act to suppress opposition and the human right to protest in public. The MOD spend huge sums of money on propaganda and publications especially in the vale of glamorgan and John smith has thousands of pounds to promote the academy and even go in to schools with unbalanced material in favour of the academy. Recently we saw the NUT protest at the MOD & government lies to school children regarding Iraq.Yesterday - the huge police presence was totally disproportionate and a waste of tax payers money. Police photographers where busy taking pictures and videos - to what purpose - the real criminals and evan murders are the arms dealers Ratheon and serco and the new labour politcans like John smith & rhodri morgan who supported or voted a policy of going to war and this academy to train people to kill.Yet they want to stop and its suscribing member organisations and supporters like PCS - there defending its members jobs and the public protesting at their expensive failed PFI policy being applied to MILITARY TRAINING.We don't want a school for mercenaries in Cardiff - we don't need it - we want sustainable jobs to benefit the community not mercenary soldiers to terrorise them and put our young people at risk of rape and worse.Note this story today Police in court over pictures at arms protest Politics The ...This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday April 27 2008 on p6 of the ... Arms campaigner Andrew Wood from Oxford claims that his human rights were ...The power of the police to mount surveillance operations at peaceful protests will be challenged in court this week. In a case seen as opposing Britain's move towards a Big Brother-style society, the High Court will determine if police are legally entitled to take photographs and compile information on protesters even if they do not break the law

Demonstration Against the St Athan Military Academy By Cheryl The demonstration was against the proposed St Athan Military Academy, which would mean enforced relocation or loss of jobs for many PCS members. From the PCS point of view there are several issues; risk to the front line, loss of skills ...

Questions at university over military academy By Greg Lewis(Greg Lewis) Protesters say they’ve found the first chinks in the armour of the arms and defence consortium behind the new St Athan training academy. Much is being made about the educational courses which will be on offer at the massive base – and ...What Is Wales And What Is It For? -

Protests against military academyBBC News - Building on the centre at St Athan is due to get under way in 2009, under a public-private finance deal. The academy will provide a central training base ...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blood on OU hands - Ireland does the right thing

Why does the OU work with Raytheon!
Ireland does the right thing…By mary The new policy is likely to be adopted in the lead-up to a major international diplomatic conference on cluster munitions scheduled for Croke Park on May 19th-30th. The Government has taken a strong stance in favour of a total ban on ...Stop Cluster Bombs -

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UCL ban military and face reprisals!

Tim Street (no network) wrote
at 1:05pm on March 13th, 2008
On 5 March, a 300-plus strong general meeting of UCL Union passed a motion proposed by socialist activist Sham Rajyaguru, president of UCL’s Stop the War Society, to ban the Officer Training Corps, University Royal Navy Units, University of London Air Squadron and all other military organisations from freshers’ events and other union-sponsored events, union premises, and student-run media. Now the right of the union has responded by suspending left-wing General Secretary Sam Godwin.For an online petition to defend Sam (which includes a space for messages of support), see

Study War No More on facebook

Student horror at partnership with Raytheon

Dear Anne, many thanks for this info! I, myself a PhD student at the OU, had no idea about this OU involvement! I am at the moment starting to talk to other students and staff of the OU to see how we could support your opposition.
all the best, Uli

Saturday, March 22, 2008

NO2 OU & Raytheon. Ethics letter to OU Wales

Campaign against the St Athan Defence Academy
Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground), is an all Wales network of organisations which promotes equality, peace, justice, human rights and co-operation between nations, peoples and communities on the basis of sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

Please find and read a copy of a letter below - to Mr Humphreys, OU Wales following a recent protest outside the Cardiff office.

The campaign against the proposed military academy at St Athan is concerned
about the impact the partnership with companies like Raytheon , arms dealers
have on international peace and conflict. We want a public debate in Wales
regarding the democratic deficit within the Open University on the decision
to enter into the Metrix Consortium.

The OU is accused of giving this consortium and the proposed privatised training a veneer of respectability. As part of the National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment on
Wed 27th Feb campaign protesters gathered outside the OU Offices in Cardiff. Mr Rob Humphreys, the Director of the Open University in Wales declined to take up a position on behalf of the Open University or one which defined his personal stance. He said that ethics were matters for individuals and as far as the Open University was concerned no formal policy had been determined.

Jeeny Lee who played a key role in the formation of the Open University was against the UK acquiring a nuclear deterrent. Working with war profiteers makes a mockery of the OU promise to promote social justice

Mr. Rob Humphreys Open University in Wales 18 Custom House Street Cardiff CF10 1AP

Dear Mr. Humphreys,

· Why is the Open University involved in a private consortium that is seeking to expand Britain's role in the global arms trade?
· Why is the Open University engaged in a partnership with one of the world's largest manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction?
· Is this not is direct conflict with the Open University's historical commitment to social justice and to using education as a force for social good in the world?

I applaud the Open University’s attention to ethics and last year’s opening of a new Ethics Centre, that will "carry out research to clarify our understanding of key ethical concepts, design new courses to spread ethical understanding and promote public debate about the most pressing moral issues of our time."

But I ask the Open University how it can reconcile its supposed commitment to ethics with its direct participation as a member of the Metrix Consortium, which has won a PFI contract from the Ministry of Defence to open a £14 billion military training centre near the village of St Athan in Wales.

Through the St Athan Defence Training Academy, the OU will now be helping to create a British version of the infamous US School of the Americas of Fort Benning, Georgia. The St Athan Academy will provide military training not just to members of the British Armed Forces, but to soldiers from armies all over the world – who will guarantee that the Burmese Army will not train there? In order to make the most money that it can, the private Metrix Consortium openly intends to use St Athan to expand Britain's role in the global trade in military training and expertise.

Through the St Athan Academy, the OU will also be partnering directly with one of the largest missile manufacturers in the world, Raytheon. On the grounds of ethics, the governments of Norway and Belgium have recently called for full divestment from Raytheon – because of the company's involvement in manufacturing cluster bombs, which kill and injure children and civilians indiscriminately in armed conflicts world-wide. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada are shortly expected to follow suit.

Through the St Athan Academy, the OU will be engaged in openly promoting the culture and economy of militarism, war, occupation, terror and mass environmental destruction.

Open University Vice-Chancellor Brenda Gourley herself has said that "there is no doubt that institutions demonstrate their values most powerfully by their actions rather than their words." She said that universities should “reflect the very best of which the human spirit is capable."

I therefore call on the Open University to cut all ties with the Metrix Consortium and to take a clear stand against the St Athan Defence Training Academy. I call on the students, staff and trustees of the Open University to demand that their institution return to its historical commitment to promoting ethics and social justice through their collective work in higher education.

Note _ The Director Mr Humphries statement
"In meeting those taking part in the demonstration outside The Open University in Wales offices, I listened to the points they made and outlined the University's involvement in the Metrix consortium, which is overseeing the St Athan project.
"The University recognises that Britain's armed services play a vital part in peacekeeping activities all over the world and that it is important that service personnel receive the best education possible for these demanding roles. As a partner in the consortium, The Open University is committed to delivering the highest possible quality of support to this endeavour.
"Since its inception, the University has helped more than 100,000 Services personnel and their families fulfil their potential through education. Participation in the St Athan project will help us to continue that work."

Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground) Y Deml Heddwch, Parc Cathays, Caerdydd CF10 3AP
Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3AP
Contact us by email

For more information
see also
No to St Athan Military Academy on Facebook

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Irish get ethical and dump Raytheon

Wat happened to the OU ethics? The Caridff OU did an ethical survey after the first St Athan Demonstation and what wasa the result! We look forward to hearing!

Will the OU work with Raytheon and Serco to train the Burmese army at St Athan?

The Government also wants students at schools and universities to play their part in protecting Britain’s security by reporting any suspicious activity.

Will OU staff report suspicious activity of Raytheon and other coporate trainers?

Ireland's pension fund to exclude munitions-report Reuters UK - "I saw at first hand on my visit to Lebanon last year the havoc that cluster bombs can cause," Ahern told the paper. "These small bomblets can look like ...

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland's National Pensions Reserve Fund plans to withdraw 27 million euros (21 million pounds) of investment from six firms involved in the production of cluster munitions, Irish media reported on Wednesday.
The NPRF, charged with securing funds for pension and welfare costs of an ageing population after 2025, followed the example of Norway's pension fund, known as the "oil fund", which aims to be a world leader in ethical investment.
The NPRF plans to stop investing in five U.S. companies: Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems and L-3 Communications, and France's Thales, the Irish Times quoted a spokesman as saying.
The fund's proposal follows a list of firms excluded by Norway's $387 billion (193 billion pound) fund, after pressure from Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, who is campaigning for a ban on cluster munitions, the Irish Times said.
"I saw at first hand on my visit to Lebanon last year the havoc that cluster bombs can cause," Ahern told the paper. "These small bomblets can look like decorations or toys and, as a result, children are very vulnerable to them."

'Dads' Army' to protect against security threats --Official: Force likely to be "a variation" of the ARP [air raid precaution wardens] who patrolled Britain's streets during the Blitz 19 Mar 008 Gordon Brown wants tens of thousands of Britons to join a new Dads’ Army-style volunteer force to help the Government tackle threats to national security. The new force, called a new Civil Protection Network, will be based on the local Neighbourhood Watch schemes. The Government also wants students at schools and universities to play their part in protecting Britain’s security by reporting any suspicious activity.

Just to remind you of
What is the real death toll in Iraq? The Americans learned one lesson from Vietnam: don't count the civilian dead. As a result, no one knows how many Iraqis have been killed in the five years since the invasion. Estimates put the toll at between 100,000 and one million. 19 Mar 2008 The British polling firm Opinion Research Business (ORB) asked 1,720 Iraqi adults last summer if they had lost family members by violence since 2003; 16% had lost one, and 5% two. Using the 2005 census total of 4,050,597 households in Iraq, this suggests 1,220,580 deaths since the invasion.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Call for OU to quit St Athan consortium

Call for OU to quit St Athan consortium
ic Wales, United Kingdom - 3 Mar 2008 Peter Collins South Wales Echo
Members of the “No to the Military Academy” campaign have staged a demonstration outside the Cardiff offices of the OU as part of the National Day of Action ...

OPPONENTS of St Athan’s defence training academy have called on the Open University in Wales to withdraw from the consortium behind the project.

The OU is a member of the Metrix consortium, which also includes multi-national training and research companies like Raytheon and Qinetiq, which made the successful bid for the multi-billion-pound academy to be built at RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Members of the “No to the Military Academy” campaign have staged a demonstration outside the Cardiff offices of the OU as part of the National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment.

Anne Greagsby, spokeswoman for the campaign, said: “The proposed military training academy at St Athan will be built and run by a consortium which includes multinational arms companies. It will train not only British service personnel, but those from any regime or private military company willing to pay. We call on them the OU to withdraw.”

Rob Humphreys, director of the OU in Wales, met the campaigners outside his offices for a “useful and amicable discussion”.

He added: “As a partner in the consortium, the Open University is committed to delivering the highest quality support to this endeavour.

“The university has helped more than 100,000 services personnel and their families fulfil their potential through education. Participation in the St Athan project will help us to continue that work.”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Brenda Gourley - Blood on her hands

Vice Chancellor of the OU Brenda Gourley loves Metrix - Raytheon arms dealers...

Metrix - The consortium includes a subsidiary of the US company Raytheon(‘customer success is our mission’) which makes cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions, supplies electronic guidance equipment for the British nuclear weapons system Trident and is a favoured US government supplier of arms to Israel.

The St Athan military academy will train armed forces from anywhere willing to pay for the privilege.

Brenda Gourley OU Vice Chancellor "More recently, we are proud to have contributed to Wales’ latest success, one of the biggest ever investments it has attracted. Earlier this year the UK Government announced their decision to site a new defence training academy at St Athan here in the Vale of Glamorgan. As a long-term partner in the successful Metrix consortium, we are already hard at work with our partners to turn the MoD’s vision into the reality of a military training centre of excellence. The initiative is expected to create around 5,000 jobs and bring around £58m to the economy annually -
a massive boost for Wales and a perfect example of what partnership working can deliver."
What would Jenny Lee have supported this? NO NO NO...

Jennie Lee played a key role in the formation of the Open University
She was a left-winger, and this brought her sometimes into opposition with even her own husband, left-wing Welsh Labour MP Aneurin Bevan with whom she usually agreed politically. Lee was critical of Bevan for his support of the UK acquiring a nuclear deterrent, something she did not support.

Note now half the package has been abandoned and the number of jobs that Metrix claims that will be created is now 3,ooo according to John Smith MP who has spent his time primarily promoting the academy but much less if you take away the transfered in jobs - training forces jobs that required specialist knowledge -then you are left with the low pay jobs, working in the self contained mega barracks shops and cafes, laundry, .......

Rob Humphries Director of the OU in Cardiff is also happy to work with Metrix

More info
No to St Athan Military Academy on Facebook
Metrix McMercenaries
Facebook No2 O.U. workng with arms companies

Food for thought
Using Public Procurement to Stimulate Innovation
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTMLProfessor Caroline Gipps • Professor Brenda Gourley • Olivia Grant • Sir Anthony ..... in particular from the insights offered by the Raytheon Corporation. -

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

OU Protest Cardiff

Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground) is an all Wales network of organisations which promotes equality, peace, justice, human rights and co-operation between nations, peoples and communities on the basis of sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

Does your university work for/with the milititary?
The proposed military training academy at St Athan will be built and run by a consortium which includes major multinational arms companies, and will train not only British service personnel, but those from any regime or private military company that can fork out the ready cash. This consortium includes the Open University and we call on them to withdraw. there will be a Protest today at 1pm at ou office 18 custom house street Cardiff.

This is part of the
National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment - Coordinated events held at universities across the UK, in protest against university shareholding in arms companies. Anne Greagsby coordinator of the campaign against the privaitised military academy at St Athan said, "As a graduate from the opne university I am shocked that they could work with and profit from arms dealers such as Raytheon associated with cluster munitions and Serco and Qinetiq.

The Open University
"Our continued dedication to social justice and equality of opportunity is embodied in a set of commitments and principles. Through these commitments, we will strengthen our position as a university of choice."????

Military organisations - including arms companies and

the Ministry of Defence - annually sponsor hundreds of projects at UK universities.

The Study War No More report examines military involvement at 26 UK universities in order to highlight the impact military funding has on university departments. The report provides information about the funding of UK universities by military organisations, both governmental and industrial. It also intends to support students concerned about the impact their institutions have on international peace and conflict; and to encourage debate regarding the democratic deficit within academic institutions and the ends and ethics of research and research funding.

Study War No More: Military Involvement in UK Universities is a joint project between Campaign Against Arms Trade and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The campaign website hosts full details of military involvement at 26 UK universities. You can download the Study War No More report, which exposes the ways in which the military sector is being pushed into UK universities, view in-depth data on each of the 26 universities we researched or find out more information on researching and campaigning in this area.
Read more


For more info on national campaign, contact Andy at

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clean up University Arms Investments! OU shame!

University Arms Investments - National Action Day Feb 27 Join me on Wednesday at the OU office in Cardiff to highlight and protest at the deep involvement of the OU in the Metrix consortium --which includes Raytheon, Serco and Qinetiq - maga arms makers and dealers in the privaitising of MILITARY training!
18 Custom House Street, Cardiff, CF10 1AP

The Ethical Investment Campaign and Campaign Against the Arms Trade have joined forces to call a National Action Day on the issues of universities' dirty investments.
Across the UK, student activist groups at Universities -- will be joining forces to highlight the shocking involvement of universities in the arms trade. Protests, street thatre and direct action stunts will be the order of the day as we hope to bring university -- and media -- attention to the fact that the wayuniversities invest their money directly supports the arms trade.
If you've been thinking of getting involved this is a fantasticway to begin. As a united national day of action, you'll be working with efforts across the UK, and able to join in on the national media attention we hope to attract.