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Extinction Rebellion protests outside University’s STEM Careers Fair

Students alongside members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Oxford gathered outside the Examination Schools to protest the University’s invitation to Equinor to set-up at its STEM Careers Fair. Protesters see the invitation as an endorsement, saying that it goes against the University’s sustainability commitments and targets for Net Zero.

Equinor is a petroleum refining company which has recently been approved to operate in the controversial Rosebank oil field, the biggest undeveloped oil field in the North Sea, and could extract a projected 500 million barrels of oil equivalent over its lifetime. The operation of Rosebank itself sparked protests earlier this term and has faced wider criticism for being a U-turn on key climate policies. Protestors discovered that Equinor ‘withdrew’ from the event yesterday.

One protestor told Cherwell: “the University Career Service of Oxford University is still allowing fossil fuel corporations into his careers fairs, it should not be happening. Already half a dozen universities have stopped oil and gas corporations from trying to recruit in their careers fairs. This is actually in line with the United Nations, which says there should be no new oil, gas or coal installations made anywhere on the planet.”

Recently, Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has unveiled research that indicates that wind and solar energy could fulfil energy demand 10-fold. Oxford University was also the sixth-largest beneficiary of funding from fossil fuel companies out of all UK universities in 2022-23, receiving £1.2 million.Oxford pledged to divest its endowment from fossil fuels in April 2020, but have maintained partnerships with oil and gas firms in order to fund research activities and scholarship programmes

Ruby Finn, one of the organisers and student at Hertford College, told Cherwell: “It goes against all of Oxford’s research…Oxford publishes this and then on the other hand invites Equinor to the careers service.”

She added that “while we fully support anyone taking up whatever career that they choose, we thought by doing this the University was affiliating and endorsing Equinor”.

In response, the University told Cherwell: “’The Careers Service offers an impartial service which allows students to make informed choices about their futures through access to employers and professional networks.

“The Service is very concerned about the climate crisis and any employer wishing to advertise roles and opportunities on our systems are encouraged to answer a set of questions to allow students to find out more about their sustainability credentials.

“Students can easily access an organisation’s stance on the climate crisis, its plan on how it will achieve Net-Zero by 2050 and remain profitable, and other relevant credentials in sustainability.”

Equinor has been reached for comment.

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