Barred lecturer issues UAE warning

The United Arab Emirates is now “deeply inimical” to university values, according to a lecturer from the London School of Economics and Political Science who was barred from entering the country.

March 2, 2013

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow in the LSE’s department of government, was denied entry to the country on 22 February as he visited to deliver a speech at a conference held in conjunction with the American University of Sharjah.

As a result, the LSE pulled out of the conference because it said the state had imposed restrictions that “threatened academic freedom”.

The UAE later said that Dr Ulrichsen had been barred because he had “consistently propagated views de-legitimising the Bahraini monarchy” which were “non-constructive” at this time, according to reports.

In an article for Foreign Policy, Dr Ulrichsen writes that the UAE is engaging in a “security crackdown” in the wake of the Arab Spring, and was seeking to “control research and conference agendas”.

“The UAE currently is a deeply inimical place for the values that universities are supposed to uphold,” he says.

“Particularly in the current age of austerity and budget-slashing in the West, Gulf funding has increasingly become important to [Western] universities struggling to cope financially”, but this could lead to a culture of self-censorship over the records of the autocratic regimes, he adds.

The warning comes as the British Council prepares to host the major Going Global education conference in Dubai from 4 to 6 March.

Heriot-WattUniversity, London Business School, the University of Manchester, Middlesex University, the University of Bolton, City University London and the University of Westminster all have branch campuses in the UAE, according to the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education.

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