THE University of Glasgow has agreed to fund a £20 million programme of “reparative justice” over its historical links to the slave trade.

A memorandum of understanding was signed at a ceremony in Jamaica yesterday between the institution and the University of the West Indies, after a report found the Scottish university had financially benefited from the “appalling and heinous” slave trade.

The agreement between the two institutions will see the creation of the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research, with £20m to be raised by Glasgow University over 20 years to fund the project and for grants.

The centre will host events, sponsor research, co-ordinate academic collaborations between universities, and aims to raise public awareness about the history of slavery and its impact around the world.

After signing the agreement in the Jamaican capital Kingston, the chief operating officer of the University of Glasgow, Dr David Duncan, described it as a “historic occasion” for the universities.

Duncan said: “When we commissioned our year-long study into the links the University of Glasgow had with historical slavery, we were conscious both of the proud part that Glasgow played in the abolitionist movement, and an awareness that we would have benefited, albeit indirectly, from that appalling and heinous trade.

“From the very first, we determined to be open, honest and transparent with the findings, and to produce a programme of reparative justice.

“In this we were greatly assisted by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, who was one of our external advisers.

“I am delighted that as a result of the report we are now able to sign a memorandum of understanding between the University of Glasgow and the UWI and I look forward to the many collaborative ventures that we will jointly undertake in future.”

Beckles said he was “proud of the decision of the University of Glasgow to take this bold, moral, historic step in recognising the slavery aspect of its past and to rise as an advocate of reparatory justice, and an example of 21st-century university enlightenment”.

Another commemorative signing of the MoU and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in honour of the enslaved is scheduled to take place in Glasgow on August 23, coinciding with Unesco’s international day of remembrance of the slave trade.