The academic links between Britain and the UAE will likely come under further threat if Mr hedges remains jailed.
James Brackley, Birmingham’s UCU branch president, said that academics are “outraged” at both Mr Hedges’ treatment and the university’s “refusal to address the serious issues we have raised regarding its campus in Dubai”.
He urged the university to “provide guarantees about the safety and academic freedom of staff and students in Dubai.”
British universities have long had ties to the UAE, with several setting up satellite campuses in the region including Middlesex, City, Heriot-Watt, Bolton, Stirling and London Business School.
But Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, said the he would not support an academic boycott of UAE, adding that student exchanges should continue with countries even if there is a “profound policy disagreement” with the UK.
“One of the issues that can actually help facilitate a change of outlook in ideas is student exchange programmes,” he said. “It worked during the cold war, I don’t see why it can’t work now.”
He said that any kind of academic boycott would mean “potentially undermining our ability to positively influence what is going on in these countries by getting their future leaders to understand experience and share the values that we hold dear”.