Beard Blasts Foreign Boffin Ban

Outspoken Classics Prof Mary Beard has criticised the University’s decision to ban all foreign professors from examining its postgrad theses.

Outspoken Classics Prof Mary Beard has blasted Cambridge University’s decision to ban all foreign professors from examining its postgraduate theses.

Unless non-E.U. academics have special “right-to-work clearance from the UK Border Agency” they will be barred from paid employment, denying PhD students the opportunity to work with world class scholars.

The statement was released by the University’s Human Resources Compliance Unit, and immediately criticised by one of Cambridge’s own professors, the self-proclaimed “subversive” Times commentator, Professor Beard.

The Classics professor lashed out at the decision calling it a “mockery of our claim to be one of the top universities on the planet.” The University’s pre-eminence is dependent upon the “exchange of lectures, seminars, examiners etc across the globe” says Beard, and the development of Cambridge’s “world class scholarship” is seriously threatened by this nationality lottery.

The claim to be at the “cutting edge of international research” will now face the passport test: provide one from the E.U. or the PhD students miss out. We don’t care if you’re the world expert in molecular biology; you’re not eligible to work.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that supervising PhD theses isn’t as great as it sounds. Reading, marking and giving the candidate a viva for each thesis consists of a minimum of 25 hours work, for as little as £100. This, says Beard, is a dubious form of “employment”.

Her online blog received a flurry of replies, including suggestions that even though the University could get round the guidelines via loopholes, it had chosen not to.

The Business Academy Visa (BAV) states that “payment of honoraria may reasonably be disregarded” from the stipulations, which could easily enable academics of any nationality to offer postgraduates their invaluable expertise.

Cambridge’s Human Resources released a statement in the wake of Beard’s outcry saying they would investigate whether the BAV would be “suitable for PhD examiners from outside the European economic area.”

Too little too late, says Beard. “Any university which asks me to produce my passport before I accept work…can BOG OFF.”