The University of Cambridge has faced criticism for its decision to accept a £6 million donation from oil company Shell, to fund research into oil extraction technology.
The decision was made in spite of a campaign, led by staff and students, which aims to encourage Cambridge to cut its ties with extractive industries.
Previously, the university had received much praise for proposing a plan that would see it divest its interests from the environmentally damaging fossil fuels industry.
It has come to light that Cambridge agreed to accept the donation back in March, despite failing to include it in forms stating the university’s official disclosures in July. Other recent academic donations were announced at this time.
Cambridge’s decision to allow a senior Shell executive to address the university, where she will discuss whether the university should divest their interests in the fossil fuel industry, seems set to cause further controversy.
When addressing the criticism, Cambridge has claimed that Shell made the commitment to fund the research group back in 2014, and that this is the last in a series of planned donations. They also claim that the delay in announcing the deal was due to a delay in finalising paperwork, rather than an attempt to avoid facing the potential backlash for as long as possible.
Patrick Harland, an Environmental Engineering student, said of Cambridge’s decision: ‘I think it's an awful decision that has been made by the University; it goes against everything that research done at the University and across the world indicates the future is. It is something that the student population of the University must be against, so it brings in to question whether Cambridge should be allowed to accept such a donation’.