British University Cuts Ties With Uganda Affiliate Over Anti-Gay Bill (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2013

According to a statement posted on the University of Buckingham web site, the university has suspended the validation of some of the courses offered at Victoria University in Kampala:

Over the last few months, the University of Buckingham has been in discussions with our partners, Edulink, who own Victoria University in Kampala, Uganda, about our continued validation of some of Victoria University’s courses. We have both become increasingly concerned about the proposed legislation in Uganda on homosexuality and in particular the constraints on freedom of speech in this area. In the light of this we have agreed to suspend our validation on the assurance that Edulink would produce viable arrangements for existing students on our validated courses to complete their studies. We will of course assist Edulink with any validation support needed to achieve this.

In February 2011, University of Buckingham announced that they were entering an agreement with Victoria University to provide courses produced by Buckingham, with the goal over time of embarking on joint research and providing educational programs which would meed the British standards for East African students.

Update: BTB commenter Bose in St. Peter MN found this statement from Victoria University which provides further context (PDF: 1 page/283KB):

Under both UK and Ugandan law discrimination on a variety of grounds is prohibited; however there are fundamental differences between the two nations’ respective laws regarding equality and diversity, which cannot be reconciled. After seeking legal guidance from both UK and Ugandan lawyers, Victoria University and University of Buckingham have concluded that as the laws of Uganda and UK presently stand, Victoria University cannot comply with both sets of laws.

Therefore, the collaboration between Victoria University and the University of Buckingham has been suspended because it cannot operate in a status of legal uncertainty and/or non-compliance.

Bose in St. Peter MN

January 8th, 2013

Indications are that the U of Buckingham was a major player in the launching of Victoria University, which opened in mid-2011. One of the promotions at the Victoria website is, “Why fly to Europe when there are UK degrees next door?” And, Buckingham is one of only two UK orgs listed as “Associated Institutions.” Edulink, owner of Victoria, is based in Dubai; self-described as a “global educational services company,” it has “a significant presence in the UAE (Dubai & Ras al Khaimah), England (London) and Uganda (Kampala),” and is fairly young. (A managing director named Edulink as a startup as of 2007 in his LinkedIn profile.)

The collaboration between Buckingham and Victoria didn’t appear to even be much about LGBT issues. Buckingham’s founder, in the early 1970s, is hailed as a libertarian. In the UK, the school offers a 2-term course, “Sex & Gender in the Legal Process” taught by a “barrister and a well-known writer and broadcaster on feminist issues,” but there doesn’t appear to be a deeper gender or LGBT studies curriculum. The 2011 announcement mentioned only that Buckingham would support “undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in subjects such as accounting, computing and business.”

So, the big picture strikes me — while citing the “constraints on freedom of speech” in the proposed Ugandan law as the driver of the withdrawal from its significant contributions to Victoria, I wonder if Buckingham also found the 2-year collaboration with UAE-based Edulink (where gay sex is prosecuted) to be unworkable.

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2013

Now you see? This is why I love BTB readers. Thanks for the deep dive.

Bose in St. Peter MN

January 8th, 2013

Thanks, Jim… of course, right after hitting the Post button, I came across the Victoria U press release, which is much more specific about the reasons for ending the partnership:

“Under both UK and Ugandan law discrimination on a variety of grounds is prohibited; however there are fundamental differences between the two nations’ respective laws regarding equality and diversity, which cannot be reconciled. After seeking legal guidance from both UK and Ugandan lawyers, Victoria University and University of Buckingham have concluded that as the laws of Uganda and UK presently stand, Victoria University cannot comply with both sets of laws.”

It also discounts my hunch about tensions between Buckingham and Victoria/Edulink, citing shared commitments by all parties to “highest standards.”

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2013

That’s worth an update. Thanks.

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