Review and repent – or persist and pay an even higher price ?

University of Oxford Vice Chancellor, Louise Richardson, moves on from Oxford at the end of her seven year term on December 31st 2022. She will then be 64 years old, but has been engaged by the Carnegie Corporation as its first female President from January 1st 2023. She is also the first woman to hold the top executive job at the University of Oxford. She is capable,  successful and her PhD in politics is from Harvard where she also taught.

Congratulations to her. But why did she choose to move on rather than remain at Oxford or, indeed, retire?

Her departure, however, affords the University of Oxford  the opportunity to review thoroughly what this dynamic, ideological and career minded lady has done and has overseen during her time at Oxford. The appointment of a new Vice Chancellor  is a critical opportunity to review the direction in which Oxford is now moving – and take corrective action.

A number of initiatives have been taken during her vice chancellorship which make the CV of a dynamic, career minded person look irresistible, but which leave the University of Oxford with a legacy it may come to regret.

Precipitating the university into Covid vaccine development has already begun to look like a mistake. Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex,  was televised taking the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine in March 2021 in order to restore confidence in it.#  He failed, and confidence in Oxford’s jab collapsed.  Now, 9 months later,  Castex has again tested positive for Covid 19.## The Oxford vaccine was rebranded because its reputation became so toxic. Even so, developing nations are now being sent the vaccine which the developed world does not want.  And it has emerged that AstraZeneca plans to raise prices well above the “at cost” charge so publicly vaunted at the launch of the vaccine.

But before Covid came OSCAR – a project founded in November 2018.  The university website states:

OSCAR is Oxford University’s first overseas centre for research in Physical Science and Engineering, established in China’s Jiangsu Province in partnership with the Suzhou Industrial Park. As a multidisciplinary research centre, focus is on research questions and technologies that capitalise on its location in the Suzhou Industrial Park and beyond, as well as Oxford’s particular research strengths. The aim is to create innovative solutions with commercial potential.###

What obligation is the University under to the Chinese Government ?

Did anybody in the University of Oxford stop to consider what the real world ramifications of engaging with contemporary China actually mean ?

Did anybody stop to consider the fate of the people of Hong Kong ? Did anybody stop to consider the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Uighur muslim people at the hands of the Chinese authorities ? Did anybody stop to consider the utterly dehumanizing and totalitarian Social Credit system being rolled out in China ? Did anybody stop to consider that the current Xi  Jinping regime bears the hallmarks of Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany or Maoist China ?

I am staggered that an anti-Apartheid campaigning Vice Chancellor allowed herself to be associated with such a project.

No doubt the business interests and the scientists will retort that this is not politics but scientific research, commercial co-operation, and personal bridge building. To which I reply, that is not how the people of Hong Kong, the Uighur Muslims and human rights activists in China itself will see such actions.

It is high time for institutions like the University of Oxford to get real about what matters most in this world.  Is it forming associations with interests which suit their personal, their commercial and their coporate agendas ?  Or is it human rights, the rule of just law, and the moral as well as reputational integrity of the Institution for which they have responsibility ? Will they see themselves in the role which they actually occupy, i.e.  as stewards entrusted with the oldest University in England by the people of the United Kingdom ? Will they realise that they will be judged before the court of Human History ?

The appointment of a new Vice Chancellor from 1st January 2023 is an opportunity then to

  1. radically and honestly review the last 6 years
  2. face up to the University’s wider responsibilities
  3. appoint someone who will take corrective action and avoid leading the University into yet more dubious ventures and activities

GRC

# Jean Castex AstraZeneca vaccination report at

https://www.france24.com/en/france/20210319-french-pm-castex-to-get-astrazeneca-shot-in-bid-to-restore-public-confidence

Jean Castex tests postive for Covid just months aftetr receiving the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine – see

https://www.euronews.com/2021/11/22/french-pm-jean-castex-tests-positive-for-covid-19

University website report on OSCAR is at

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2021-11-19-oxford-suzhou-centre-advanced-research-oscar-celebrates-three-years-innovation

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