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University reveals slave trade benefits of up to £199 million

UK News | Published:

Glasgow University’s principal said he ‘deeply regrets’ the financial support from slavery wealth.

Tories say graduates should pay for education

Glasgow University received benefits worth the equivalent of up to £199 million from slave trade cash, researchers have found.

The university carried out a year-long study into thousands of donations made in the 18th and 19th centuries and discovered some were linked to slave trade profits.

Creating a centre for the study of slavery and memorial or tribute in university grounds in the name of the enslaved has now been agreed by the university as part of a reparative justice programme.

The research identified 16 bursaries, endowments and mortifications donated between 1809 and 1937 with direct links to profits from slavery.

Donations to the 1866-1880 campaign to build current campus at Gilmorehill found 23 people who gave money had some financial links to the New World slave trade.

In total, the money received is estimated as having a present day value of between £17 million and £199 million.

Anton Muscatelli
Glasgow University Principal Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli (David Cheskin/PA)

Glasgow University Principal Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said: “This report has been an important undertaking and commitment to find out if the university benefited from slavery in the past.

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“Although the university never owned enslaved people or traded in the goods they produced, it is now clear we received significant financial support from people whose wealth came from slavery.

“The university deeply regrets this association with historical slavery which clashes with our proud history of support for the abolition of both the slave trade and slavery itself.”

He highlighted the university’s historic anti-slavery activity which included petitioning Parliament to abolish slavery, awarding an honorary degree to the emancipationist, William Wilberforce, and educating former slave James McCune Smith, who became the first ever African American to receive a medical degree.

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