Aberystwyth University (AU) is set to update its investment policy, as staff and students call for ‘more transparency’.

In the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, students and staff of the Ceredigion learning institution brought fresh scrutiny to the investments of the university, branding the current policy as “frustratingly unclear”.

In December a Change.org petition gathered over 1,000 signatures calling for the university to ‘divest’ from companies ‘complicit in the genocide in Gaza’.

This May AU will update its investment policy, originally due in Nov 2022, with input from university representatives in April.

The June 2019 policy states ‘the university does not intentionally invest directly in organisations involved in controversial weapons, weapons systems... or in organisations that create activities or substances which are injurious to health, destabilise community cohesion [or] threaten international stability’. However for staff like Saoirse Morgan who started the popular Change.org petition, the word ‘directly’ gives the university a loophole that many at the university community want closed.

Saoirse, a former student at the university, said: “The current policy is meaningless because the university doesn’t directly invest in any company but in pool investments. We’ve been trying to find out what companies they have invested in but we are no closer to knowing.

“It’s frustrating to be kept in the dark. For students including prospective ones, matters like this are important. Currently, the policy is disingenuous.”

Saoirse met with financial director Simon Crick, who according to her “reiterated that they don’t directly invest”, calling it a “get out of jail free card”.

However a Freedom of Information request by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign identified £356,436 worth of investments in organisations that the group branded as ‘complicit’ with the conflict in Gaza.

Multiple students running for Student’s Union (SU) elected positions this spring also have investment policy reform on their campaign manifestos.

Louise Tanner, a runner for SU president, said: “I believe that as an SU we have a responsibility to push the wishes of hundreds of students to put pressure on the university to withdraw the investments in companies that fund Israel’s arm trades.

“I will be pushing for this, as well as more transparency about the investment funds, no matter if I am elected for SU president. As a university, we should not be funding the genocide of thousands of innocent civilians.”

A spokesperson for the university said: “The university does not hold direct investments in the companies listed by the group in the petition.

“The University’s investments are in pooled funds. In line with the University’s Ethical Investment Policy, the managers of these pooled funds must be signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment as initiated by the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2005.

“The University acknowledges that a very small proportion of its pooled investments might be invested indirectly with companies that do not meet its criteria.

“As such, the University is committed to improving its Investment Policy and is already strengthening its approach to socially responsible investments, having appointed new managers and funds to achieve this.”