Warwick Students Union will vote on a motion of no confidence in their Vice Chancellor Sir Nigel Thrift following an All Student Meeting on Monday 2nd of February.
The motion was proposed in the wake of a turbulent year for Warwick.
On December 3rd, a police response to student protest was widely criticised by organisations such as Amnesty UK after a peaceful sit in ended with the use of tasers and CS gas. There is now a full independent IPCC inquiry into the events.
This was followed by a thousand-strong demonstration against police violence on campus the next day and solidarity demonstrations and actions around the country. Students went on to occupy a university building for eight days, before the university sought a high court injunction to end the occupation. In the injunction the university named two students as being potentially liable for unlimited legal costs, but in the end these were not recovered.
Students also went on to campaign against Nigel Thrift receiving a £16,000 pay rise, which brought his salary to £348,000. An ironic ‘Pay Day party’ was organised for the 15th of January – the day Nigel Thrift earned more in 2015 than the lowest paid member of university staff will in the whole year. 150 students gathered and marched on University House, the main University administration building, before being locked out by university security.
The university has also regularly clashed with its staff.
The national USS pension dispute led to a marking boycott after staff were threatened with losing a third of their pensions.
Professor Thomas Docherty was suspended for “insubordination” after sighing in a departmental meeting, in a move widely thought of as an attempt to discipline an academic who was openly critical of the UK university system. His suspension lasted almost half a year, and has been criticised throughout the academic community.
The university has also announced that it will make 20 workers from the Warwick Medical School redundant due to the department’s poor financial performance. Comments in the THE have linked redundancies at the University of Warwick to the ability to attract a minimum of $75,000 in research funding, with UCU comparing their situation to “market traders in the City, who are judged solely on the amount of money they raise”. This has led to widespread staff anger, and staff creating a petition which has close to 1,900 signatures.
Thrift, who was named in the New Years honours list, was knighted for “services to Higher Education”, and will be leaving the University this year after an unexpectedly short contract renewal of only 6 months.
The debate will take place on Monday the 2nd, with voting taking place online over the next few days.
Callum Cant, a 3rd year English Lit student at Warwick who was named on the injunction that ended last year’s occupation, said: “This is a chance for the student body to show we have totally lost faith in the management of Warwick Univeristy.”
“Nigel Thrift has consistently acted in a way which has damaged our community, and we want to show that he no longer has our support.”
“His knighthood is a farce. How he can be knighted for services to higher education when there is an unprecedented level of anger amongst his own students and staff I don’t know.”
Dec 3rd protest
December 4th demonstration and 4th-12th Occupation
Thomas Docherty suspension
Medical School redundancies
Nigel Thrift Knighthood