Uni Melb to staff: right to comment not at risk

The University of Melbourne says the right of academics to comment is not in danger

At the University of Melbourne, the campus branch of the NTEU and academics says the absence of a free speech clause in management’s draft enterprise agreement is a risk.

But management is having none of it saying the, “claims are part of the National Tertiary Education Union’s enterprise bargaining strategy.

“The suggestion that the draft agreement removes academic freedom protections is simply not true. Academic freedom of expression is a core value of the University of Melbourne. All university scholars are free to engage in critical enquiry and public discourse under the binding university council Academic Freedom of Expression Policy. There is no intent to change this policy nor to compromise the university’s unwavering commitment to its terms, reaffirmed by council as recently as March this year.

“Contrary to the union’s assertion, the university would not and could not lawfully dismiss employees on the basis of them making controversial public comments.”

So why not codify protections in the next enterprise agreement, as the union asks? “The university firmly believes that academic freedom is too important to be governed through an industrial agreement,” management tells CMM.