Union News: UCU writes to Open University over Cuba student ban

Union News | Monday, 24 July 2017 | Click here for original article

The UCU has written to both the vice-chancellor of the Open University and universities minister Jo Johnson to call for a ban on Cuban students attending the Open University to be overturned.

The university says its policy is justified on the basis of concerns about repercussions from the United States. However, as UCU points out in its letter to Peter Horrocks, that puts it directly at odds with the UK government’s position on Cuba.

The 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the United Kingdom and Cuba says there should be improvements in the links between universities in the two countries.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “There is no justification for not accepting Cuban students on a course, and any move to stop anyone would be directly at odds with current UK government policy on cooperating with Cuba on higher education issues, particularly around teaching English.

“I have written to both Open University vice-chancellor Peter Horrocks and universities minister Jo Johnson calling for the ban to be overturned.”

More than 1,200 people have written to their MPs about the situation following the campaign by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

CSC Director Rob Miller said: ‘The fact is that the Open University policy is discriminatory and can not be justified. The OU are putting United States’ ‘Cold War’ policies over and above UK equalities law. They are ‘kowtowing’ to the United States and its extraterritorial blockade legislation. The UK government has voted every year at the United Nations against the Blockade, in doing so it has voted against such threats to UK sovereignty from an overseas government.

“It is high time for the British government to intervene and put a stop to this embarrassing policy by the publicly funded Open University. In doing so they would make clear that the UK is not just an infant partner of the United States and that they will not join in with the ridiculous antics of Donald Trump and his Blockade of Cuba.”

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