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University Appointments

Volume 773: debated on Friday 22 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what arrangements his Department has made with Universities in Great Britain for the institution of lectureships and appointments financed by his Department; and whether he publishes a list of all Universities entertaining such appointments;(2) what arrangements his Department makes for the tenure of appointments financed by his Department at universities; whether screening for security purposes is involved; and whether the results of any research done as a result of such appointments at these Universities is allowed to be published;(3) what steps are taken to make it clear to entrants that a particular post at a university is financed by his Department and is subject to possible screening or to other security measures.

Arrangements have been concluded with certain universities to create an additional academic post in an existing faculty to specialise in the defence aspects of its discipline. So far five such appointments have been madeā€”at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London (King's College), Oxford (All Souls College) and Southampton. Two further appointments are at present being considered.These appointments are financed by a grant from the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry's grant is awarded for five years in the first instance. The posi- tion will be reviewed in each case before this period expires when the grant may be renewed for a further five years. However, it is our hope that, by the end of a further five-year period, the university or college concerned will itself take over financial responsibility for the appointment.As it may from time to time be desirable for the occupants of these posts, in pursuing their researches, to have close contact with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry is normally given the opportunity to express any comments they may wish to offer when applications have been received. Responsibility for the selection of candidates, however, and for other questions, rests with the university or college concerned.The Ministry is anxious to encourage academics appointed to these new posts to undertake both teaching and research within their discipline and to publish the results of their studies as a contribution to a better understanding of the problems of Britain's defence and oversea policy. I believe that it is generally appreciated that we could not waive security requirements if classified information were involved. More generally, however, we would wish to have as few restrictions as possible, and no difficulties are foreseen in any of the appointments so far made.