The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

MMU Prof resigns in protest

Professor Ian Parker has resigned and his students claim they have not been offered any alternative supervision

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Professor Ian Parker, the internationally renowned psychology Professor, has resigned from Manchester Metropolitan University arguing he has been “personally attacked”.

Prof Parker was suspended by MMU in October on charges of “gross professional misconduct” and following a disciplinary hearing he was allowed to return to work in December.

But in his resignation statement, Prof Parker says: “My professional work as an academic has been undermined to the point where there is now nothing left to return to in the psychology department.

“Not only have my conditions of work changed, but the research base I helped to build in the last 27 years at MMU has very rapidly been dismantled.”

Throughout his suspension students and academics ran a campaign calling from his reinstatement. An online petition received almost 4,000 signatures from around the world, including from American philosopher Noam Chomsky.

Owen Dempsey, who has been researching a PhD in evidence based medicine and over-diagnosis under Prof Parker, was involved in the campaign.

He claimed: “Not only have I not been offered an alternative supervisor but I haven’t even had any communication about what’s going on since the suspension. Nothing whatsoever.

“Even now that he’s resigned I’ve still had no communication from the university about my position as a PhD student.

“As far as the university is concerned I just don’t exist.”

He said that he was not the only student in this situation and that he and others would be demanding funding back from MMU.

“I’ve been doing this PhD programme for a year,” he said, “but that entire year has now gone to waste so I’m going to have to start again somewhere else.”

MMU were unable to confirm Mr Demspey’s claims but in October promised that “[Prof Parker’s] PhD students have been offered alternative supervisors”.

Students and staff were not told of Prof Parker’s suspension and many only found out days later when the news was made public through the online campaign.

One of his PhD students at the time, China Mills, described how “he just disappeared overnight”.

Prof Parker was suspended after circulating emails around the department questioning workload and appointment procedures, but he argues: “MMU has insinuated in press comment that my suspension was for matters more serious.”

He was a campus representative for the University and College Union (UCU) and was publically supported by UCU as well as by the Manchester Trades Union Council.

Prof Parker asked to be transferred to another department on a fractional contract to continue supervising his current students but claimed: “The University has made it clear that it will not agree to this reasonable request.”

Mr Dempsey said: “The University was dragging it out and creating such an amount of emotional stress and pressure that at the end of the day he just felt that for the sake of his own health he needed to get out of that environment.”

Prof Parker’s resignation statement ends: “The University was making me sick. It was time to get out.”

MMU refused to comment further on the issue, having previously stated: “It’s private and confidential as far as we are concerned.”

  • Dr. Bill Alder

    I wish to protest against the treatment of Professor Ian Parker by Manchester Metyropolitan University. The actions against Professor Parker, which have led to the resignation of this internationally renowned academic, must be construed as bullying of an employee by the university’s management. In addition, the actions of MMU management have led to uncertainty for a number of Professor Parker’s doctoral students. I wish to associate myself with the campaign of the University and College Union (UCU) and manchester Trades Union Council in support of Porfessor Parker.

  • Rhiannon Lockley

    As acting branch secretary at Halesowen College UCU I wish to send a message of support to Professor Parker on behalf of the branch. This growing management culture of forcing activists out of education through misuse of disciplinary procedure & intimidation tactics must be resisted at every level.

  • Kirstie Paton

    As a previous student of Ian’s I would like to say how outraged I am at the treatment of Ian by MMU. We will be watching the university closely and challenging any attempts to bully and intimdate staff who simply stand up for fairness and justice like Ian. I wish Ian all the best and would like to say a personal thanks for his excellent teaching and research while I was a student at the university.