British ‘Open’ University or closed anti-Cuban Trump University?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Wilkerson: Practically Everyone Opposes Trump‘s Reversal of Obama’s Cuba Opening

15 June 2017

Reversing the Cuba opening will be a political nightmare for the Trump administration, but they ignore everyone’s warnings, says Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell‘s former Chief of Staff.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

‘Open’ University blacklists Cubans from its courses

Monday 24th July 2017

Institution accused of blocking enrolments to bolster US embargo – in breach of British laws

CUBANS have been banned from enrolling at the Open University (OU) because the institution fears repercussions from the United States, which has been illegally blockading the island for 59 years.

The distance-learning university has been accused of breaching discrimination laws by imposing the ban.

Around 30 Cuban students are already studying at other British universities and the government has pledged to build higher education links with the tiny Caribbean nation.

The OU has claimed that the ban on Cuban students is “in response to international economic sanctions and embargoes” — that is, threats of retaliation from the US.

Britain as a whole does not operate or subscribe to any economic sanctions or embargoes against Cuba.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) yesterday condemned the ban as “unacceptable” and said the OU was choosing to abide by US rather than British law.

CSC director Rob Miller said: “It is unacceptable on every level for a British university to ban an entire group of students based solely on their nationality and runs counter to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws.

“It is an affront to all British people to suggest, as the OU does, that they are only complying with US law. Their action and justification for it punishes the people of Cuba, and undermines the sovereignty of British law.

“Cuban students are welcome to study at many other British universities. By introducing this unjust, discriminatory and nasty policy, the OU is making a mockery of its claim to be ‘open to all.’

“We have asked the Open University to end this outrageous ban, and are calling on the British government to make urgent representations to the OU to ensure that they run a fair and non-discriminatory admissions policy, or take action to enforce one if they refuse.”

In March, Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Sir Alan Duncan met Cuban vice-minister for higher education Dr Aurora Fernandez, who was in Britain leading a delegation from the Cuban higher education sector.

He said at the time he was “looking forward to working with them towards UK-Cuba goals on higher education, research, and English language training.”

Westminster policy is one of “strengthening UK-Cuba educational links.”

Last year, a memorandum of understanding was signed to “boost bilateral cooperation in higher education, research and teaching of English.”

CSC has launched a campaign to persuade the OU to lift its ban on Cuban students and is urging supporters to write to their MPs over the matter.

The US economic blockade was imposed by president John F Kennedy in 1962, extending restrictions from 1960, and maintained by every subsequent president.

Relations between Cuba and the US improved under President Obama, though the economic blockade remained largely in place, but President Trump is tightening restrictions against island country of 11 million.

The blockade, which has been declared illegal by the United Nations every year since 1992, has significant and punitive effects on Cuba, including its health and education services.

Drugs and medicines have to be shipped from China and other countries, despite being available just 90 miles away in the US.

The OU also bans students from Iran, North Korea and Syria.


4 thoughts on “British ‘Open’ University or closed anti-Cuban Trump University?

  1. Wednesday 26th July 2017

    posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

    University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt called on the government yesterday to step in to overturn a ban on Cuban students by the Open University.

    She has written to Open University vice-chancellor Peter Horrocks and Universities Minister Jo Johnson to take action.

    She told the Star: “There is no justification for not accepting Cuban students on a course, and any move to stop anyone would be directly at odds with current government policy on co-operating with Cuba on higher-education issues, particularly around teaching English.”

    As reported in the Star on Monday, the OU said it has introduced the ban because it fears repercussions from the US, which has been operating an illegal blockade against the Caribbean island for more than 50 years. The US imposes fines and embargoes on foreign companies that deal with Cuba.

    The blockade — repeatedly declared illegal by the United Nations — leaves Cuba struggling to obtain materials including medicines and educational equipment. The OU has now added its courses to the list.

    In her letter, Ms Hunt wrote: “We are concerned about the discriminatory nature of the OU’s admissions policy, which not only runs counter to your access-oriented mission but also current practice at other universities, where Cuban students are enrolled on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.”

    She said she was baffled that the OU chose to “privilege US legislation over and above UK-EU legislation and practice.”

    Cuba Solidarity Campaign director Rob Miller said: “It is time for the British government to intervene and put a stop to this embarrassing policy by the publicly funded Open University.

    “In doing so they would make clear that the UK is not just an infant partner of the United States and that they will not join in with the ridiculous antics of [US President] Donald Trump and his blockade of Cuba.”

    The Morning Star has repeatedly asked the OU for a statement on the issue, but none has been forthcoming. The OU is the biggest provider of higher education in Europe. It has 250,000 students, including 50,000 overseas.

    Thirty Cuban students are currently studying at other universities in Britain.

    The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is urging supporters to contact their MPs over the OU ban, see

  2. Thursday 27th July 2017

    posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

    THE Open University was forced to admit yesterday it was bowing to US pressure by begging for a licence to be allowed to enrol students from Cuba.

    As reported in the Star, the Open University (OU) has banned students from Cuba from enrolling on any of its courses as it feared repercussions from the US, which has operated an illegal blockade on the island for 50 years.

    The blockade starves Cuba — population 11 million — of essentials including medicines and educational materials.

    An OU spokesman told the Star: “The US has comprehensive sanctions in place against a number of countries, including Cuba, meaning that it is not lawful for organisations subject to US jurisdiction to supply educational services to those countries without a licence.”

    The spokesman said that after taking legal advice “the university reluctantly concluded that it must apply to the US Treasury Department’s office for foreign assets control for the relevant licences.”

    Cuba Solidarity Campaign director Rob Miller said: “The OU seem to be placing United States’ cold war policies over and above UK equalities law. They are kowtowing to the United States and its extraterritorial blockade legislation.

    “The UK has the 1996 Protection of Trading interests legislation on its statutes designed to deal precisely with this kind of extraterritorial bullying by a foreign power.”

  3. Friday 28th July 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    BRITAIN’S largest teaching union NUT joined the growing chorus of voices yesterday against the Open University’s (OU) “discriminatory” ban on Cuban students.

    NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney has written to OU secretary Keith Zimmerman, calling for the policy to be revised.

    Mr Courtney wrote: “On paper, the Open University and the National Union of Teachers share many of the same core values and commitments; better opportunities for all, a focus on social justice, and a commitment to removing the barriers to quality education.”

    However, he said he feared that this recent policy “has turned its back on these key values.”

    He said the decision to reject students from Cuba is illegal under Britain’s Equality Act 2010 and breaches the Protection of Trading Interests Act 1996, which states that Britain-based companies and individuals can be fined for complying with “extraterritorial obligations” imposed by other countries.

    “As an educationalist, I am sure you will agree that no student should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of where they were born. I ask you t o revise this discriminatory policy as a matter of urgency,” wrote Mr Courtney.

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