A petition calling for the University of Tasmania to ban a PhD student with a history of sexual offences has reached almost 1,500 signatures.

Nicolaas Ockert Bester, 63, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in 2011 for maintaining a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student while he was a teacher at a Hobart private school, and for possessing child exploitation material.

He was later sentenced to another four months in January this year, after he was caught bragging on social media that his previous crime was “awesome” and “enviable”.

Now the UTAS Women’s Collective have started a petition calling for the uni to terminate his Phd scholarship and ban him from attending campus, arguing that its putting students’ safety at risk by allowing him to live and study on campus.

“The university’s decision to support Bester’s Phd status despite his continued criminal and inappropriate behaviour poses a clear threat to other university students, and in particular the underage students whom attend campus for pre-university units,” it reads.

It also claims multiple complaints have been made about his presence on campus, and states that he was reported to police for predatory behaviour at the uni gym.

“At the time, an agreement was made with Bester that he would no longer attend the gym, but UTas continued to accommodate him on campus.”

UTAs deputy vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood told the ABC that “there is nothing in the university or government rules governing PhDs which precludes this student from continuing with their research, but we have taken appropriate steps and will continue efforts to balance interests across the campus community.”

Photo: University of Tasmania.