Among the 53 companies attending are six considered arms companies by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), although many are involved in other businesses as well. The controversial BAE Systems will be in attendance and the other companies are DSTL, QinteQ, Jaguar Land Rover, Thales and Selex Galileo.
The previous careers fair was met with opposition from SUSU and a picket led jointly by Amnesty International, Green Action and Socialist Students. Currently it is unknown whether there will be a repeat of the protest in February and SUSU’s position is complicated by the prospect of a motion at its meeting on January 31st challenging their opposition to arms companies.
The issue of the arms trade continues to split the student body, with some opposed to what they percieve to be an unethical and unaccountable industry, and others celebrating its ability to provide graduates with jobs.
In its letter to the University protesting about the last career’s fair, SUSU noted that the UK had licenced sales to 20 countries engaged in serious conflict since 1997, including Anglola, Sierra Leonne and Sri Lanka. They commented that the arms trade increases the chance of armed conflict and diverts money away from development in countries with pressing social needs.
The issue of military spending by our government and excessive tax breaks given to large arms companies has also come under the spotlight, with CAAT launching a petition to persuade the government to focus the tightened national budget on other areas.
However some engineering students have been reported emphasising the employment and sponsorship oppurtunities the companies provide.
Announcements of any action and SUSU’s response will be published in due course.