Glasgow University joins security network programme following threat of foreign spies

This follows MI5 issuing a threat of foreign spies to academic work

The University of Glasgow has joined a “Trusted Research” security network in order to protect its staff and research from being taken by foreign spies.

The head of MI5 and former UofG student, Ken McCallum has warned universities across the country of the increasing risk. The Trusted Research programme, set up by security services with the aim of protecting valuable work from being stolen, has welcomed loads of universities across the UK, including the likes of those in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Glasgow Live reports.

The news comes after Director General of MI5, Ken McCallum, revealed that more than 20,000 Brits have been approached online in an attempt to steal valuable information. The threat is believed to be largely from China.

McCallum has said: ”The UK is seeing a sharp rise in aggressive attempts by other states to steal competitive advantage. It’s the same across all five of our countries. The stakes are now incredibly high on emerging technologies. States which lead the way in areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology will have the power to shape all our futures.”

McCallum gave a talk at Glasgow University earlier this year, when he warned that universities were “magnets” for espionage.

He said attacks from foreign powers were usually “subtle” but could be in the form of conference invitations, collaboration proposals, donations with strings attached, jointly-funded research or even through postgraduate students themselves.

The Trusted Research programme is aiming to protect university staff and their work from being misused by foreign sources. It involves thorough security checks on international academics working with UK ones and will give advice on how to protect data from thieves.

Scottish universities have previously been warned about their financial reliance on Chinese students. Chinese students provided Glasgow University with £270million in tuition fees last year, with the university having the largest number of Chinese students of any in Scotland, with 9085 enrolled in 2021/22, a 400 per cent rise in eight years.

Glasgow University said: “We value the presence and contribution of students from around the world. All research is underpinned by policies and a Code of Good Practice, as well as the Trusted Research programme, that ensures it is conducted to the highest standards of academic rigour.”