The University of Portsmouth will provide “academic guidance” to courses that will train up to 4,200 engineering students at the new Military Technical College of Oman. In the words of the University,
The Military Technological College will provide academic education and training for the Omani armed forces and Ministry of Defence engineering services
Oman is an authoritarian and repressive regime and there is a strong likelihood the skills and weapons developed by the University of Portsmouth’s courses will be used for internal repression or in regional conflict. In 2010, Oman was rated the 143rd most democratic country in the world out of 167, behind Vietnam, China and pre-revolutionary Egypt. In 2011, Omani Arab Spring protesters were killed and imprisoned. British arms companies have continued to arm Oman, supported by the government.
Portsmouth students are currently campaigning against the partnership. Shawn Basheer, a final-year, entertainment technology student said
By partnering with the Omani Military Technical College, Portsmouth students would be indirectly helping the Omani dictatorship maintain and arm itself with the same hardware that was responsible for the deaths of protesters during the Arab Spring. Although our university isn’t too keen on cutting ties, thanks to the Student council and our University Amnesty Group, we are currently in talks to pass a motion condemning the partnership which will then be followed by a university wide rally to raise awareness