Press release: The Big Animal Research Debate


Next week, Monday to Thursday, 14 – 17 October, more than 30 universities from the UK, Republic of Ireland and the USA will host public debates on the motion, ‘This House would ban all forms of animal research.’ The Big Animal Research Debate coincides with National Biology Week, and is set to be the largest ever public debate on this controversial issue.

The debates aim to foster greater transparency and understanding and allow students and the wider public to come to an informed decision on this disputed issue. The debates will be argued by some of the world’s leading university debaters and include guest speakers on both sides of the argument involved in the wider discussion on animal rights and animal research.  Schools from across the UK will also be participating during the week.

A number of the university debates will be streamed live over the internet, while others will be recorded and available to view afterwards. These can be viewed on our website: The results from schools and universities will be updated regularly on the website as the votes come in. The event has been organised by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) UK in partnership with the non-profit organisation, Understanding Animal Research.

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said:

"Britain is at the forefront of scientific endeavour and medical development and the use of animals in scientific research - where there is no alternative - remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work in health and disease, the research and development of new medicines for humans and animals, the development of cutting edge medical technologies and protection of our environment. I hope the Big Animal Research Debate will encourage a better understanding among the British public, and especially among young people, about how and why animals are used."

The debate has received endorsements from MPs, medical research charities and advocacy organisations involved in policy making, science education, medical and biological research, and the search for alternatives to the use of animals in scientific research. These endorsements can be found

Andre Menache - Director of Antidote Europe, said:

The Big Animal Research Debate is an important initiative at a time when animal experimentation is still widely seen as a ‘necessary evil’. Although animal experimentation has traditionally been viewed as a stand-off between medical progress and animal welfare, there are increasing doubts within some sectors of the scientific community regarding the predictive value of animal models in human medicine, which has significant implications both in terms of animal suffering and public health.”

The public are invited to join many of the debates at a participating university to vote on this sensitive issue. Details of all the debates are on the - Events page. The public will also be able to view many of the debates live on

Alexander Cavell, Debate Programmes Coordinator for IDEA UK said:

The Big Animal Research Debate aims to draw on the insight of the debating community for a transparent argument on this major public controversy and address the misconceptions that continue to surround this important scientific topic.”

Wendy Jarrett, CEO for Understanding Animal Research said:

The Big Animal Research Debate allows us to have a reasoned debate with the public about the role of animals in medical, scientific and veterinary research. We are excited to be working with IDEA UK to provide students and the public with the opportunity to make an informed decision on this difficult issue”.


Notes for Editors

For further information:
Tom Holder, Understanding Animal Research - // +44 (0)203 675 1235 // +44 (0)7802 482994

Marcin Zaleski , IDEA UK Executive Director - // +44 (0)20 3393 7223 // +44 (0)7885237108

Which universities are participating and when?
14 October - University of Sheffield 7pm, University of Hull 7pm, King’s College London 7pm, University College London 7pm, and James Madison University, U.S.A. 7.30pm

15 October - University of Liverpool 5.30pm, University of Kent 6pm, Staffordshire University 5pm, University of Stirling 6.30pm, University of Nottingham 7pm, Aberystwyth University 7.30pm and Trinity College Dublin 5pm

16 October - University of Warwick 4pm and University of Dundee 7pm

17 October - University of Cambridge 7pm, New College of the Humanities 5.30pm, University of Manchester 5pm, Newcastle University 6pm, University of Oxford (time tbc), University of Westminster 6pm, London School of Economics 6.30pm, Sheffield Hallam University 7.30pm, University of Swansea 6pm, Queen’s University Belfast 6pm, University of Southampton 7.30pm, University of Glasgow 7pm, Imperial College London 7pm, and University of Essex 6pm.

18 October ­- University of Durham 8pm and University of East Anglia 7pm (these are the only universities participating outside of the 4-day period)

To Be Confirmed - University of London Union and Queen Mary University of London

Visit - Events page for the latest details. 

The universities participating include seven of the top ten in the 2014 The Times Good University Guide League

Follow the event on Twitter via @AnimalArguments, where the public can post their comments to #MakeUpYourMind. The Big Animal Research Debate is also on Facebook

About IDEA
The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) is the world’s leading provider of debate education, providing resources, training and events to hundreds of thousands of educators and young people every month. IDEA works with schools and universities, debate organisations and community groups and partners with foundations, NGOs, businesses and governments. It has offices in Belgium, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Mexico, the UK and the USA.

About Understanding Animal Research
Understanding Animal Research is a non-profit organisation that distributes accurate information about the use of animals in medical, veterinary and scientific research and promotes greater openness among universities and organisations using animal models.