University and College Union members at Warwick yesterday passed a motion in support of Thomas Docherty, professor of English and comparative literature and author of For the University.
Warwick denies claims that the suspension of Professor Docherty, a former head of the English department, relates to his activism.
The UCU branch motion notes that Professor Docherty is “nationally known as an outspoken critic of many current trends in UK higher education” and that “he has been absent from his post for a number of weeks without explanation”.
It adds that “the procedural irregularities and lack of transparency in this process violate the principles of natural justice and are having adverse effects on the well being and reputation of Thomas Docherty and the staff and students in the department and the university.
“Warwick UCU therefore calls for his immediate return to work.”
One academic wrote on Twitter that he had heard Professor Docherty had been “suspended indefinitely for anti-cuts activism”.
Warwick declined to comment on the UCU branch motion. A spokeswoman reiterated a previous statement, which said: “The university would not normally comment on internal staffing issues. In this case however, given inaccurate reports elsewhere, we would wish to confirm that a member of academic staff has been suspended pending formal disciplinary process.
“Contrary to those inaccurate reports elsewhere, the disciplinary allegations in no way relate to the content of the individual’s academic views or their views on HE policy.”
Professor Docherty is a member of the steering group of the Council for the Defence of British Universities and has written a number of opinion pieces for Times Higher Education criticising what he sees as the marketisation and bureaucratisation of higher education, as well as the sector’s leadership.
A 2013 article on mission groups described the Russell Group, of which Warwick is a member, as “a self-declared elite…even exerting a negative influence over others”.