Unis not unis without academic freedom

The Commonwealth’s campus free speech law has not assured a professoriate group that academic method is protected

The Australian Association of University Professors warns there “are serious issues” with the government’s law. It wants a distinction between free speech and academic freedom And it wants academic staff to be able to contribute to public debate, not only in their fields of research and study.

The association points to Murdoch U suing staffer Gerd Schröeder Turk (the case did not get to court) over criticisms he made of university policies and James Cook U sacking scientist Peter Ridd, an outspoken critic of some research there. Dr Ridd’s case will be heard by the High Court in June.

“The importance of academic freedom cannot be overstated. Academic freedom is essential for the exercise of the academic method upon which the daily life of a university depends. In contrast, university management in the fulfilment of its subsidiary functions is not beholden to the academic method and thus cannot legitimately issue codes of conduct that limit academic freedom, the AAUP states.