Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday, 15 April 2020


Student who criticised China faces expulsion from University of Queensland

Univer­sity of Queensland student activist Drew Pavlou. Picture: AAP
Univer­sity of Queensland student activist Drew Pavlou. Picture: AAP
A student activist who has loudly campaigned against the Univer­sity of Queensland’s ties with Chinese organisations faces ­expulsion from the university within weeks.
Drew Pavlou, a student-­elected member of UQ’s senate, has revealed that he faces disciplinary action by the university.
In a post on social media, he wrote: “Hey everyone, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the University of Queensland will be considering my expulsion on April 27th before a secret hearing due to my posts criticising the university’s links to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and support for Hong Kong”.


    UQ confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Pavlou faced disciplinary proceedings but refused to ­divulge their nature other than to say they related to rules covering student conduct.
    Mr Pavlou has been a political thorn in the side of UQ over the past year, leading noisy protests about the university’s support of joint research with Chinese-backed organisations and alleging he was assaulted by Chinese government supporters at a rally last year in support of Hong Kong protesters.
    A UQ spokesman said it was inappropriate to comment on the specifics of the move against Mr Pavlou. “However, the university rejects Mr Pavlou’s statement that the university’s process is an attempt to penalise him for airing his political beliefs,” the spokesman said.
    “Universities reasonably expect that students comply with conduct policies and charters that reflect both the organisation’s values and community expectations.
    “UQ’s disciplinary processes seek to address alleged contraventions of university policy — they do not seek to prevent students from expressing their views or to limit their right to freedom of speech.”
    Mr Pavlou, a philosophy student, has also attracted criticism from Chinese government-owned media over his vocal hardline stances against Beijing.
    News of the university’s move sparked criticism on social media.
    Mr Pavlou’s supporters have begun an online petition against his possible expulsion, and this had attracted more than 4700 signatures by late Wednesday.

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