Uni Melb moves to keep control of its own free speech policy

And no, it’s not a quick response to the French review

The University of Melbourne Council has endorsed a freedom of speech policy, which makes explicit “the commitment to lawful freedom of speech in its activities and operations.” It is said to supplement the existing academic freedom policy.

The announcement follows a campaign run by The Australian newspaper, for universities to adopt the “model code” proposed in the French Review (CMM April 8). In Saturday’s Australian, Education Minister Dan Tehan, called for universities to defend free speech and freedom of academic inquiry.

However, Uni Melb VC Duncan Maskell said yesterday the new policy, “follows extensive consultation within the university community both before and after the French Review was undertaken.”

The policy blazes a trail for other universities which may think they need to do something, and fast, to placate the minister, without looking like they are adopting Mr French’s code or an equivalent, basically because they were told do.

Of course, universities could tough it out – which may be why Mr Tehan has asked for advice on free speech amendments to the Higher Education Support Act and HE Standards, (detailed in CMM yesterday).


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