Anti-Zionist Warwick professor faces investigation

The conduct of an anti-Israel professor is to be investigated by the agency that reviews the performance of universities.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) will consider whether Warwick University's Nicola Pratt breached guidelines on impartiality when marking Israeli student Smadar Bakovic's dissertation.

QAA chief executive Anthony McClaran received a complaint about Professor Pratt last week and confirmed an agency officer would conduct a preliminary investigation.

Ms Bakovic complained to the university after it assigned Professor Pratt as her master's supervisor. Professor Pratt is a vocal anti-Israel campaigner who has repeatedly called for Britain to implement a programme of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

After a year-long campaign, Ms Bakovic's study on Israeli Arab identity was re-marked by two other Warwick professors and an external marker and received a mark of 71 per cent - a distinction.

The university said it had "bent over backwards" to help the 35-year-old from Harei Yehuda, near Jerusalem, and had allowed the work to be re-marked because the strength of her feelings had not been taken into consideration at the start.

A spokesman added that the university stood by Professor Pratt's initial mark of 60 per cent and found her conduct to be "exemplary".

An online petition calling for Professor Pratt to be sacked has been signed by more than 300 people. It states: "Professor Pratt must go now. There must be zero tolerance of bigoted academics who do not have the wit to separate their prejudices from their academic objectivity."

Board of Deputies senior vice-president, Jonathan Arkush, has written to Warwick vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift asking for an inquiry.

Mr Arkush said the university needed to investigate the disparity in the marks given to Ms Bakovic and check whether Professor Pratt's "personal political opinions prejudiced her academic objectivity".

Warwick is yet to respond to the Board's concerns.

Last updated: 12:43pm, December 29 2011