Gaddafi donation to UK university to go to scholarship fund

The London School of Economics says it will set up fund to support North African students with money donated by son of Libyan leader.

Saif Gaddafi 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Saif Gaddafi 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – The London School of Economics (LSE) announced on Wednesday that it would set up a scholarship fund to support students from North Africa using money donated to the university by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Last month, the university suspended a study program funded by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is a graduate of the school, following the outbreak of violence and deaths in Libya during the continuing demonstrations against the regime.
“The school has had a number of links with Libya in recent years. In view of the highly distressing news from Libya over the weekend of 19- 20 February, the school has reconsidered those links as a matter of urgency,” LSE said at the time.
On Wednesday, LSE said it was investigating reports of alleged plagiarism in relation to Saif Gaddafi’s doctoral thesis, submitted in 2008.
In 2009, the university accepted £1.5 million from the International Charity and Development Foundation, which is chaired by the younger Gaddafi, but said last month that only £300,000 had been received so far.
Following the backlash and calls to return the money, or donate it to a worthy cause, the LSE council met on Tuesday to discuss the matter and agreed that the £300,000 would be used as a scholarship fund to support students from North Africa.
“The council also firmly endorsed [director Howard Davies’s] statements and decisions so far, including the decisions to close the research program and to express regret at the reputational damage for the school caused by the association with the Gaddafi name,” the school said in a statement on Wednesday.
It also said that the grant proposal from Gaddafi had been properly considered by the school in 2009 and approved by the council for reasons “which appeared sound” at that time.
“The council noted that the school, under its normal procedures, was investigating claims of plagiarism and ghost-writing that had recently been made in relation to Saif Gaddafi’s doctoral thesis,” the school said.
“It took some time, but LSE has shown it is willing to atone for its sins in working with the Gaddafi regime,” said Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights – a London-based organization tackling extremism on campus – who led a campaign calling for the funds to be donated to a worthy cause.
“It is now imperative that all universities use this opportunity to review their funding and distance themselves from any regimes guilty of human rights abuses,” Kassam said.