MI5 warns that Russia, China and Iran are targeting UK universities in national security threat

MI5 warns that Russia, China and Iran are targeting UK universities in national security threat

WATCH NOW: Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden issues an update on Chinese cyber attacks

GB NEWS
Jack Walters

By Jack Walters


Published: 26/04/2024

- 18:30

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan co-hosted the meeting

MI5 has warned Russia, China and Iran have been targeting British universities.

Bosses at Britain’s top academic institutions were called to Whitehall on Thursday for an unprecedented briefing with security chiefs.


MI5 director-general Ken McCallum and National Cyber Security Centre’s acting chief executive Felicity Oswald warned hostile states posed a threat to national security.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan co-hosted the meeting.

MI5 warns that Russia, China and Iran are targeting UK universities in national security threat

MI5 warns that Russia, China and Iran are targeting UK universities in national security threat

GETTY

The pair will later launch a consultation on measures to protect sensitive research and emerging technology at universities.

It is believed Moscow, Beijing and Tehran have been targeting UK universities to steal intellectual property to enhance their economic and military capabilities.

Dowden said: “For a millennium, our universities have thrived on being open – open to ideas, open to innovation, open to being independent of Government.

“This is not about erecting fences – this is about balancing evolving threats and protecting the integrity and security of our great institutions.”

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
A library at a UK university

A library at a UK university

GETTY

Donelan added: “I believe that universities are on the front lines of a battle for information.

“Maintaining the UK’s world-leading reputation as an academic superpower relies on having strong safeguards to protect research from those who wish to do us harm.”

However, there are concerns about the UK’s dependence on foreign students who stump up enormous fees to keep British universities afloat.

Luke de Pulford, the executive director of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac), claimed: “The elephant in the room is our dependence on fees from Chinese students.”

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden

GETTY

Dr Tim Bradshaw, the chief executive of the Russell Group, also said: “Protecting the UK’s position as a world leader in R&D [research and development] requires a security framework for research which allows and supports joint work on global challenges like climate change without putting us at undue risk.

“This is a shared responsibility, and Russell Group universities are keen to work with ministers to get this right.

“Russell Group universities take their national security responsibilities incredibly seriously and already work closely with Government and the intelligence community to help protect UK breakthroughs in fields like AI, which are important to our national interest.

“But we also recognise security is a dynamic and evolving challenge which means we need the right expertise and intelligence to keep pace with this.”

You may like

{% if context.post.roar_specific_data and context.post.roar_specific_data.affiliate_post %} {% elif %} {% endfor %}