NPC Says: Don't take Academia Hostage

At its Ordinary General Meeting in February the NPC discussed the renewed boycott of Israeli academics that was launched at a conference at SOAS last November. Despite improvements in the situation in the Middle East, the environment in UK academia is in some places anything but scholarly. The NPC resolved to oppose the boycott as it runs contrary to our Objective, which is to
"advance in the public interest the education of postgraduate students within the UK"[1]. The motion resulting from the discussion was proposed by NPC's general secretary and seconded by the delegate for the Council of International Students (CIS). It was passed unanimously.

The boycott was originally launched in 2002 and saw two academics sacked from a journal, an Israeli student discriminated against in admissions, and a number of papers from Israeli academics returned unopened. Downing street responded saying that "the Prime Minister is appalled by discrimination against academics on the grounds of their race or nationality" and that "universities must send a clear signal that this
will not be tolerated"[2].

The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences responded to the 2002 boycott saying it "violates the basic principles of scientific freedom and scholarship"[3]. The NPC has echoed these sentiments in relation to this renewed boycott.

A boycott attempt based on nationality encourages discrimination and goes against the principle of judging academic work on its merits alone. It inhibits progress in areas that benefit humanity, cuts the UK off from leading research, prevents collaborations, and encourages discrimination against some students and staff within the UK.

In addition to opposing the boycott in principle the NPC made clear that it will continue to invite contributions from Israeli academics to its own publications, including the Journal of Graduate Education.

Notes for press officers:
The National Postgraduate Committee is a charity to advance, in the public interest, postgraduate education in the UK. It is run by postgraduates for postgraduates and supported by affiliated student representative bodies throughout the UK.

For further enquires, please contact the General Secretary, Jim Ewing, at npc@npc.org.uk

References:
[1] http://www.npc.org.uk/npc
[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2002%2F11%2F17%2Fnisr17.xml
[3] http://www.nyas.org/about/newsDetails.asp?newsID=134&year=2002