Sex offender allowed to study at University of Tasmania

A former private school teacher jailed twice over a relationship with a 15-year-old has become the subject of a petition with university students furious he is allowed to live in campus accommodation.

Nicolaas Bester, 63, was jailed for two years in 2011 for having a sexual relationship with a former student while he was the head of science at the all-girls school St Michael’s Collegiate in Hobart.

He was then sent back to jail for four months in 2016 after he bragged about the relationship with the teenager as ‘awesome’ and ‘enviable’ on Facebook.

During his parole period, he enrolled in a PhD course in chemistry at the University of Tasmania and students claim they are being put at risk by having Bester live in campus housing.

Nicolaas Bester, 63, (pictured) was jailed for two years in 2011 for having a sexual relationship with a former student while he was a teacher at the all-girls school St Michael's Collegiate

Nicolaas Bester, 63, (pictured) was jailed for two years in 2011 for having a sexual relationship with a former student while he was a teacher at the all-girls school St Michael's Collegiate

Nicolaas Bester, 63, (pictured) was jailed for two years in 2011 for having a sexual relationship with a former student while he was a teacher at the all-girls school St Michael’s Collegiate

During his parole period, he enrolled in a PhD course in chemistry at the University of Tasmania (pictured) and students claim the campus is putting them at risk by having Bester live on-site

During his parole period, he enrolled in a PhD course in chemistry at the University of Tasmania (pictured) and students claim the campus is putting them at risk by having Bester live on-site

During his parole period, he enrolled in a PhD course in chemistry at the University of Tasmania (pictured) and students claim the campus is putting them at risk by having Bester live on-site

UTas deputy vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood said she was aware of the petition and said Bester’s enrollment had been ‘considered with great care’.

‘Out of respect to concerns raised previously we have asked, and the student has agreed, to focus their time on campus only in the facilities where their research project is based,’ she said.

‘Staff and students in these facilities are aware of the student’s background and supportive of the student’s research work continuing. 

‘There is nothing in the rules of either the University or Government relating to research-students which precludes this student from continuing with their research’. 

‘There is nothing in the university or government rules governing PhDs which precludes this student from continuing with their research’.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the University of Tasmania for further comment. 

Bester enrolled in the course as a mature-aged student after he was released from jail on the first charge,  according to The ABC.

UTas Women's Collective member Heidi La Paglia started a petition (pictured) to have Bester removed from the campus and has since amassed over 1,400 signatures

UTas Women's Collective member Heidi La Paglia started a petition (pictured) to have Bester removed from the campus and has since amassed over 1,400 signatures

UTas Women’s Collective member Heidi La Paglia started a petition (pictured) to have Bester removed from the campus and has since amassed over 1,400 signatures

After he went back to prison in 2016, the university declined to comment on whether Bester would still be allowed to continue his studies once he was released.

UTas Women’s Collective member Heidi La Paglia started a petition to have Bester removed from the campus and has since amassed over 1,400 signatures.

She said Bester is living in the student accommodation complex and is in ‘close proximity with many students’.

Ms La Paglia said the university is ‘ignoring’ its own behaviour policy.

‘[It] states that all staff and students have a right to work and / or study in an environment that is free from inappropriate behaviour, including the sexually harassing and abusive behaviours which Bester has engaged in,’ she said.

Ms La Paglia said Bester is living in the student accommodation complex and is in 'close proximity with many students'

Ms La Paglia said Bester is living in the student accommodation complex and is in 'close proximity with many students'

Ms La Paglia said Bester is living in the student accommodation complex and is in ‘close proximity with many students’

 

 

 

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