COLLABORATION

Swansea University pulls out of controversial £600m Kuwaiti partnership

SOURCE: Arlo Magicman/Shutterstock
Swansea University pulls out of controversial £600m partnership to develop a private university in Kuwait.

Swansea University has pulled out of a £600 million (US$790 million) joint venture in Kuwait to build a private university after the project became mired in controversy, ending with a potentially costly legal battle.

The university has claimed the scheme never made it in front of their governing body, the university council, for consideration and certainly never received approval.

Kuwait Innovation Group (KIG), the company behind the project, disputes this, however, claiming they have signed a memorandum of agreement with Swansea to deliver the development.

A statement from the university claimed the reason for the mix up was the involvement of Professor Marc Clements, the now-suspended Head of Swansea University’s management school.

Clement, who is under investigation for alleged gross misconduct, purportedly had business links with Kent Neurosciences and Sterling Health, both of whom had early involvement in the Kuwait private university.

It was these companies’ involvement that swayed the university’s trustees against the project once they became aware of it.

KIG has not taken the news well, however, and has threatened legal action, claiming Swansea leaked sensitive.

According to the BBC, KIG is also considering action for loss of potential investment and damage to the reputation.

Clement is one of four academics, alongside the Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Richard B Davies, who were suspended in November.

Part of the investigation is focusing on the role of the academics in the £200 million Delta Lakes project in Llanelli, which was seeking £40 million in funding from the Swansea region city deal.

The scheme was a collaboration between the university and other public and private sector bodies. It would have seen a life sciences lab, leisure centre, health centre, hotel and assisted living area built at a coastal site in Llanelli.

Clement denies any wrongdoing and has raised a grievance with the university over its handling of his suspension.

KIG said both Clement and Davies were acting as representatives of the university and did not stand to personally gain from their involvement in the project.