The university plans to create Britain's first International Centre
for Corporate Social Responsibility using the BAT grant, but
the move has provoked condemnation from health charities
and may be investigated by the House of Commons
Education committee as part of a wider inquiry into higher
education and corporate sponsorship.
Mr. Rouse, who took a year off from his job as chief executive of
the Commission for Architecture to do an MBA, has written to
the university authorities to say he believes it is wrong for "any
academic institution to be building bridges with the tobacco
He said: "I feel very strongly that an academic institution
should not be taking money from a tobacco company. They
are making a product that ultimately kills people."
14 December 2000
Jon Rouse: "Important issue"
A student at Nottingham University has refused a cash
award in protest at the university's decision to accept
funding from British American Tobacco (BAT). The university has approved £4m sponsorship from the
company which, it says, will be used to set up Britain's
first International Centre for Corporate Social
Responsibility. Anti-tobacco campaigners
accused the university of
selling out and taking
Jon Rouse - who graduates
on Thursday with a Master in
(MBA) - has asked for his
£50 "student of the year"
prize to be given to the
Cancer Research Campaign. In a letter to the head of the business school, Professor
Ian Gow, Mr Rouse said he did not wish to accept the
award because he did not agree with the university's
collaboration with BAT. The MBA graduate asked for a statement to be made at
the graduation ceremony, outlining his stance.
In his reply, Professor Gow said: "I am disappointed
that you don't feel able to accept the award which you
so richly deserve. "But I respect your views on the university's decision to
accept funding from British American Tobacco and
understand that your decision is now made."
But it would not be appropriate for a statement to be
made at Mr Rouse's graduation, the professor said.
"In fact the award is a business school one, which is
completely seperate from graduation itself." The presentation would have been made at a
prize-giving tea in the business school after graduation,
He would be happy to arrange for Mr Rouse to read a
statement if he was intending to be present at the tea.
"We will reallocate the prize money as you request," the
Mr Rouse said he was making a stand on a very
important issue. "I'm doing this with a great deal of regret," he said on
Breakfast on BBC One. "I had the year of my life last year at Nottingham
Business School, it's a great business school, but it's
just made a horrible error of judgement." Mr Rouse said he thought the UK's universities had a
very high standing - as President Clinton's visit to
Warwick on Thursday illustrated.
"That's because they're independent and they are very
objective," he said. "As soon as you start having these sorts of
relationships with companies with what can best be
called a dubious track record, I think you're on a very
Corporate social responsibility was not what came to
mind when thinking of BAT, he said. He hoped the university would pull out of the deal.
"I don't think it's too late, and I really think the
business school should think very, very hard and reject
the offer outright."