Senior academic calls female students 'a perk of the job'

Female students are a "perk" of the job for male university lecturers, a senior academic has suggested.

But as at famous lapdancing club Stringfellows, lecturers should "look but not touch", according Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University.

In a humorous article for the Times Higher Education magazine on "lust", part of a feature of the seven deadly sins of universities, Dr Kealey wrote: "Normal girls - more interested in abs than in labs, more interested in pecs than specs, more interested in triceps than tripods - will abjure their lecturers for the company of their peers, but nonetheless, most male lecturers know that, most years, there will be a girl in class who flashes her admiration and who asks for advice on her essays. What to do?

"Enjoy her! She's a perk."

Referencing characters from Middlemarch, by George Eliot and Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man, Dr Kealey added: "She doesn't yet know that you are only Casaubon to her Dorothea, Howard Kirk to her Felicity Phee, and she will flaunt you her curves. Which you should admire daily to spice up your sex, nightly, with the wife.

"Yup, I'm afraid so. As in Stringfellows, you should look but not touch."

Dr Kealey, a clinical bio-chemist who has been vice-chancellor at Buckingham, an independent university, for eight years, suggested that it was a "myth" that an affair between a student and her university lecturer, was an abuse of power, saying accountability has meant that "the days are gone when a scholar could trade sex for upgrades.

But he added that some female students still "fantasise" about lecturers.

Dr Kealey's comments were attacked by Olivia Bailey, women's officer at the National Union of Students.

She told the Telegraph: "I am appalled that a university vice chancellor should display such an astounding lack of respect for women.

"Regardless of whether this was an attempt at humour, it is completely unacceptable for someone in Terence Kealey's position to compare a lecture theatre to a lapdancing club, and I expect that many women studying at Buckingham University will be feeling extremely angry and insulted at these comments."

Dr Kealey could not be contacted to respond.

A spokesman for the University and College Union said: "Harassment is not something to be taken lightly and I would be surprised, and deeply concerned, if any university, or vice-chancellor, tried to laugh it off.

"Staff and students need to feel safe in the workplace and that demands professionalism and respect from everybody involved in a university."