Nigel Thrift’s set to be knighted and there is already a campaign to have it rescinded
He met the Queen
Controversial Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift has been knighted – but an action group are already calling for it to be rescinded.
Thrift, vice-chancellor at the University of Warwick for eight years, was granted his knighthood in the New Year Honours 2015 list for his services to higher education.
Ol’ Thrifty said: “I want to thank all those – staff, students, alumni and our supporters and donors – who have played their part in Warwick’s many attainments.”
The knighthood does not come without controversy though. It follows a tumultuous year at the university celebrating its 50th anniversary with question marks placed over the integrity of the Vice-Chancellor himself.
Most recently Warwick hit the headlines following claims of police violence on campus at a student demonstration for free education where CS spray was used on protesters.
The protest began after Thrift received a £42,000 pay rise this year. This remuneration brought his annual wage to 22 times that of the university’s lowest paid full time workers according to Protect the Public University, who have compiled a report into the state of Higher Education at the University.
The group claimed Thrift gave himself the raise. He said: “The Warwick Remuneration Committee, the managerial body that awarded Nigel Thrift his increase, is constituted of four members: two are currently active in the private sector, and one is Nigel Thrift himself.”
The campaign said: “It is an insult to both the staff and students of the university who have been the victims of Thrift’s profit-centric, self-serving governance over the last 8 years.”
According to the campaign it is necessary for the vice-chancellor to have the support of and represent his university’s members internationally as a figurehead of the leadership.
Second year English Literature student at the university Genevieve Lawson queries his ability in his role. She said: “It is not right that the man receives his knighthood when he cannot even command the support of his own students or staff.”
Further discontent at Thrift’s presence on the honours list comes from the fact that between July 2009 and December 2012, under his vice-chancellorship, spending on teaching and research as a percentage of income has decreased from 55.4 per cent to 51.7 per cent.
The campaign currently has 85 votes out of its desired 100 in its letter to David Cameron requesting that the case be referred to Honours Forfeiture Committee in order to have the knighthood rescinded.