Academic freedom in Australia

Academic freedom in Australia: a suzerain province?

On 24 September, 2013 Deakin University became one of merely four Australian universities with a dedicated policy on academic freedom. The rules and doctrine of academic freedom have been long … What is it about our universities that makes etc

What is the province of dissent in Australian universities? This

inquiry is surprisingly hard to reply. There is rather a batch

of dissent expressed in both professional and public fora, with

no troubles anticipated or encountered ; at the same clip,

there is rather a batch of suppression and suppression of dissent.

There are a figure of ways to near the issue.

One attack is to look at policies and official statements

about academic freedom. Martin 2002 ; 7

The right to rational freedom and the responsibility of universities non to interfere with that right is a difficult won and long held tradition and is recognised by the most Enterprise Agreements in Australian universities consequently. Academic and rational freedom in the university scene is a negative right or autonomy to print and pass on freely. This imposes a negative responsibility on the university – that is, a responsibility non to interfere in academic freedom of address. [ 1 ]

In a study of all 39 Australian universities and their endeavor understandings in 2001, Jackson found that while about half made some mention to academic freedom in their understandings, approximately one tierce contained elaborate clauses on academic freedom. At one terminal of the study, the University of Adelaide understanding contained an extended academic freedom clause, associating academic freedom to professionalism and duty, at the other Deakin University had no academic freedom clause at all, along with half the universities in the state.

Jackson observes, nevertheless, that the move to integrate some look of committedness to academic freedom had begun and that by 2003 both the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne had expansive clauses recognizing academic freedom, the latter committing to “defending the academic freedom of all staff and pupils to prosecute in critical enquiry, rational discourse and public contention without fright or favour.” [ 2 ]

As Jackson indicates, endeavor understandings were non the lone beginning of committedness to the dogmas of academic freedom, with a figure of establishments enshrining it in codifications of behavior. In 2001, the Southern Cross UniversityCode of Conductwent every bit far as showing academic freedom as a warrant:

The University shall: ( a ) Guarantee academic freedom of both enquiry and look provided such enquiry and look does non conflict applicable State or Commonwealth statute law ( such as calumny and privateness Torahs ) and provided that if differences arise, the University ‘s difference declaration patterns are observed. [ 3 ]

Since August, 2012 the Southern Cross University appears to hold resiled from such a warrant. While the university’s newCode of Conductupholds the right of its staff to take part and freely prosecute in public argument, it does so with considerable making. Such engagement must now associate “directly to the academic or other specialized capable country of an employee’s country of expertness, the officer may utilize the University’s name and reference and give the rubric of his or her University assignment in order to set up his or her credentials.” [ 4 ]

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In relation to public remark, most of the universities cited in contained clauses that sought a balance between the right to academic freedom and a duty to show that freedom within the bounds of academic expertness and without bias to the university. Griffith University’sCode of Conductprovinces: “This Code does non take away from the academic freedom of staff of the University. As a staff member you are encouraged to prosecute critical and unfastened enquiry and engage in constructive unfavorable judgment on affairs of public concern within your country of expertise.” [ 5 ] This is the tenor of the diction in most understandings citing academic freedom and

In 2012 all but two Australian universities – the University of Notre Dame and the University of Southern Queensland – have substantial clauses of rational freedom.

The jurisprudence associating to academic freedom in Australia

In a landmark instance in February 2001, a University of Wollongong academic Ted Steele was summarily dismissed for talking out against ( what he claimed were ) falling criterions due to the ‘soft marking’ he was instructed to use by university disposal. In the ‘Steele Case’ , the University was pursued to the Federal Court for unjust dismissal by the National Tertiary Education Union ( NTEU ) . The full bench of the Federal Court ruled in Steele’s favour the undermentioned twelvemonth and the faculty member was reinstated ( before making a colony with the university ) .

While the argument around academic freedom had in fact raged diversely throughout the state during the 50 old ages prior, the Steele instance became a landmark in the defense mechanism of academic freedom in Australia and, significantly, a trial for how a dismissal, perceived as an onslaught on academic freedom and free address, can backlash on a university disposal. [ 6 ]

Following the Steele instance, the NTEU escalated its lobbying of the Commonwealth authorities to present legislative protection for academic freedom for Australian universities.

This instance – and a figure of abuses on academic freedom

Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations ( SSCEEWR ) Inquiry into Academic Freedom in the 2nd half of 2008

In Australia, the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and

Workplace Relations ( SSCEEWR ) conducted an Inquiry into Academic

Freedom in the 2nd half of 2008. The enquiry had been established in the

deceasing yearss of the Coalition-controlled Senate in late June 2008. On 4

December the Inquiry released its study. A study of such an enquiry normally

has the same rubric as the Inquiry itself. In a intimation of its findings, this study

bears the rubric ‘Allegations of academic prejudice in universities and schools’

( SSCEEWR 2008 ) . Gelber 2008

The NTEU re-defined rational freedom to include: “the rights of all staff and pupils of higher instruction establishments to take part in determination devising procedures and constructions within their establishment, including the right to show sentiments about the operations of that establishment and higher instruction policy more generally.” [ 7 ]

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Macquarie University

Jackson makes the of import point that while “a codification is non contractual an statement might be made that a codification making or attesting positive rights such as academic freedom would make an estoppel … . Damaging trust by an academic on the codification would do it conscienceless for the university to disregard the statements in the code.” [ 8 ]

This instance – inter alia – and serious lobbying by the NTEU precipitated a move by the so Labor Government to amend theHigher Education Support Act 2003in 2011.The amendments were to include expressed mention in its objects to the publicity and protection of “free rational enquiry in acquisition, instruction and research” and to bind support of universities to a committedness “to have policy upholding free rational enquiry in relation to acquisition, instruction and research” ( s.19.115 ) .

The Act now requires all higher instruction suppliers to conform to the amendments ( s.19.115 of the Act ) in order to run into the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency ( TEQSA ) ’s supplier enrollment criterions for continued support.

Academic freedom and Victorian universities

A study of Victoria’s eight universities by the Deakin University Policy Office indicates all have in topographic point endeavor understandings incorporating commissariats for rational freedom. These commissariats are translated diversely to other policy places across the universities.

All but the University of Melbourne contain their in agreement statements on academic freedom within their Media policies. The University of Melbourne addresses the issue of academic freedom within a specific policy on Academic Freedom of Expression. RMIT University, Monash University and Deakin University provide for academic freedom in both their media policies and codifications of behavior.

All but the University of Melbourne contain a statement back uping academic freedom with the caution that such freedom must be exercised within an academic’s country of expertness. The universities vary in their application of limitations on other facets of communicating from within the university.

The University of MelbourneAcademic Freedom of Expressionpolicy goes good beyond the commissariats of its endeavor understanding, saying obviously the express right “of all bookmans at the University to seek for truth and to keep and show diverse opinions.” It stresses that such look should be “robust and uninhibited” and “recognises besides that bookmans are entitled to show their thoughts and sentiments even when making so may do offence.”

The University of MelbourneAcademic Freedom of Expressionpolicy does do a statement of academic duty but without prohibition. The policy stresses that “scholars may keep their ain positions and talk freely on all subjects, even outside their expertness, and even placing themselves as members of the University.”

The policy requests merely that faculty members express themselves “reasonably and in good faith” and that discourse entered into should be in “accord with the rules of academic and research moralss, where applicable.” The policy concludes: “The University recognises that these rules may change harmonizing to the context in which the discourse occurs.”

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The University of Melbourne Collective Agreement 2010 captures rational freedom merely in its cardinal rules, but is already more expansive than any other Australian university: “Intellectual freedom means the freedom of academic staff, and, to the extent consistent with their employment duties and function, professional staff, to prosecute in critical enquiry, rational discourse and public contention without fright or favor, but does non include the right to hassle, intimidate or vilify.”

Mentions

Griffith University. “ Code of Conduct. ” hypertext transfer protocol: //policies.griffith.edu.au/pdf/Code % 20of % 20Conduct.pdf.

Jackson, J.G. “ Express Rights to Academic Freedom in Australian Public University Employment. ” Southern Cross University Law Review 9 ( 2005 ) : 107-45.

Martin, Brian. “ Dilemmas of Defending Dissent: The Dismissal of Ted Steele from the University of Wollongong. ” The Australian Universities ‘ Review 45, no. 2 ( 2002 ) : 7-17.

National Tertiary Education Union. “ NTEU Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into Whistle-Blower Protections within the Australian Government Public Sector. ” Canberrra: National Tertiary Education Union. , 2008.

Southern Cross University. “ Code of Conduct. ” hypertext transfer protocol: //policies.scu.edu.au/view.current.php? id=00030 # maj13.

1

[ 1 ] The footings ‘academic’ and intellectual’ freedom are frequently used interchangeably

[ 2 ] J.G. Jackson, “ Express Rights to Academic Freedom in Australian Public University Employment, ”Southern Cross University Law Review9 ( 2005 ) : 134.

[ 3 ] As cited in ibid. , 135.

[ 4 ] As cited in ibid.

[ 5 ] As cited in ibid. As at April, 2014 this diction remains substantively unchanged: “The Code does non take away from the academic freedom of University staff. Staff members are encouraged to prosecute critical and unfastened enquiry and engage in constructive unfavorable judgment on affairs of public concern within their country of expertise” ( Griffith University, “ Code of Conduct, ” hypertext transfer protocol: //policies.griffith.edu.au/pdf/Code % 20of % 20Conduct.pdf. )

[ 6 ] Brian Martin, “ Dilemmas of Defending Dissent: The Dismissal of Ted Steele from the University of Wollongong, ”The Australian Universities ‘ Reappraisal45, no. 2 ( 2002 ) . Martin sketches a figure of high-profile instances of similar dirt traveling back to 1950. The salience of the Steele instance is likely due to a perceived relaxation and outlook of a certain tolerance of judgement emergent from the major societal and educational reforms of the Whitlam epoch. As the Steele instance was being played out in Wollongong, the alleged ‘culture wars’ were being acted out between conservativists and imperfects on the national phase.

[ 7 ] National Tertiary Education Union, “ NTEU Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into Whistle-Blower Protections within the Australian Government Public Sector, ” ( Canberrra: National Tertiary Education Union. , 2008 ) .

[ 8 ] Jackson, “ Express Rights to Academic Freedom in Australian Public University Employment, ” 136.