The 25-member University Council – the highest decision-making body at the university – made the announcement on Monday after a Student Union resolution had necessitated the vote on divestment.

But the final decision will be delayed, as the University said in a statement: “Last October’s Oxford University Student Union resolution has raised an important and multi-faceted matter which requires thorough consideration. The University Council had a good discussion of the issues and agreed to consider the matter further at a future meeting.”


The news prompted immediate criticism from environmental groups, with Oxford University Fossil Free – who proposed the original divestment resolution – saying the deferral represented a “serious complacency” about the risks of climate change.

“The absence of a response today is disappointing, given how long the decision-making process has taken already. We appreciate the University’s active engagement with the student body on this issue, and strongly urge the University to make the right decision without delay.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole and Guardian journalist (and Oxford alumnus) George Monbiot were also daming in their reactions.

Ethically ambiguous

Divestment is the opposite of an investment – it simply means getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous.

Oxford has partially divested from arms manufacturing companies over the last five years.

Two years ago, the university accepted funds from Shell for a new Earth Sciences laboratory, while BP supports several university-wide societies at Oxford, often for advertising and recruitment opportunities.

In October 2014, the University of Glasgow became the first scholastic institution in Europe to pledge to divest from the fossil fuel industry. In America, the prestigious Stanford University eliminated direct investments in coal-mining companies last May. 

Brad Allen

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