Edinburgh’s new vice-chancellor condemned by staff for allegedly failing to ‘protect academic freedom’

He starts in February

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The University of Edinburgh's new vice-chancellor, Peter Mathieson, has been condemned by staff at his current institution for failing to uphold academic freedom.

Mathieson, who is to become principal and vice-chancellor at Edinburgh in February , is currently in the same position at the University of Hong Kong.

However, in a recent survey taken by academic staff and senior administrators, 80 per cent said they 'strongly disagreed' that Mathieson "understands the needs of the students and the staff," while 78 per cent said they 'strongly disagreed' that he had "effectively protected academic freedom."

University of Hong Kong

The medical researcher has recently been criticised for allegedly discouraging debate on campus when he signed a statement condemning the actions of pro-Hong Kong independence students . He is leaving the post after three years into a five-year term.

In late 2017 the Tab Edinburgh highlighted the shady past of Edinburgh's new principal, which includes comparing a student protest to Hillsborough and threatening to take action against whistleblowers.

William Cheung, chairman of the Academic Staff Association who produced the questionnaire, even thanked the University of Edinburgh for accepting Mathieson as vice-chancellor.

Cheung said: “Perhaps you may now appreciate why we thank you so many times for taking Professor Mathieson on board, as clearly it would give our university a fresh start sooner rather than later.”

Credit: Dickson Lee

However, the vice-chancellor has since defended himself by questioning the methodology of the survey, saying: “I have received complimentary messages during my time here and since my decision to leave.”

He claimed “the negative opinions are not shared by the very large number of staff, students, alumni and friends of the university”.

Out of the 2,060 members of university staff the questionnaire was sent to, more than 600 replied.