A storm has erupted at a Welsh university where arguments over planned cuts in academic departments have led to a suspension, threats of disciplinary action and the police being called.
In one corner at the University of Wales, Swansea, is Professor Richard Davies - the vice-chancellor - and his management team who want to prune chemistry, sociology and other 'unpopular' departments. In the other are hundreds of students plus members of the Association of University Teacher who have opposed the proposed cuts.
The latest casualty in the increasingly bitter dispute is a philosophy lecturer, Colwyn William- son, an outspoken opponent of the cuts, who has been suspended. He has been denied access to his university email account and banned from campus. The ban follows a police investigation into allegations about 'hacking' into computers at the campus.
At his home in Swansea yesterday Mr Williamson confirmed police raided his home at 7.30am on St David's Day. They took away equipment including CDs belonging to his 12-year-old daughter.
Later however, said Mr Williamson, the police agreed to take no further action after he agreed to a caution.
Management meetings about the length of his suspension and what action to take next are ongoing with one being held yesterday.
Mr Williamson is no stranger to controversy, having been suspended in the early 1990s for blowing the whistle on alleged low standards on a Masters Degree course in Swansea. In what became known as the plagiarism row, he and two other lecturers, Mike Cohen and Anne Maclean, alleged some students were copying essay work.
He and Mr Cohen were suspended for almost two years while Ms Maclean accepted voluntary redundancy.
They were all later reinstated after being vindicated in an independent review by former High Court Judge Sir Michael Davies.
Earlier this month, Cefin Hayward, a member of Swansea's Student Action Committee Against Closures, was summoned to a police station. He was interviewed regarding a complaint under the Harassment Act of 1997 relating to posters he had allegedly placed on the campus depicting the vice-chancellor with a pointed or elongated head. He was released without any charge with a warning about future behaviour in relation to posters.
And last week Jonathan Jones, a student representative on the University Senate, was charged with an internal university disciplinary offence. It was alleged he had personally criticised the vice-chancellor after Professor Davies took the decision to cancel a senate meeting in the face of a student demonstration.
A university spokeswoman said, 'The university confirms that on March 2, 2005, a member of staff was suspended from duties pending an investigation.
'For reasons of confidentiality, the university is not at liberty to disclose any details of an individual's case.
'As in many higher education institutions, teaching staff absences occur for numerous reasons.
'In each case the university ensures professional teaching staff are on hand to provide continuity in students' studies.'
Mr Williamson said yesterday, 'With the suspension and disciplinary action and the police being summoned there is clearly a new atmosphere at the campus.'