Unis on uniform free speech code: we know what we’re doing

Universities Australia states the sector’s independence in the face of demands members adopt the French review’s model free speech code

The peak body’s board yesterday issued a carefully worded statement reaffirming a 2018 announcement of all members, “commitment to the enduring principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression on campuses and amongst their students and staff.”

“Freedom of expression and academic freedom go to the heart of what our universities do. They are fundamental to how we operate. This is why Mr French’s proposed model code is being given careful attention by our universities to ensure the robustness of their frameworks for free speech and academic freedom,” chair Deborah Terry (Curtin U VC) said yesterday.

While acknowledging, university staff, students and speakers are subject to laws prohibiting hate speech, discrimination and incitement to violence, UA points to its members’ 2008 statement on academic freedom.

“Universities have a special role as institutions dedicated to free, open and critical expression across the full scope of human knowledge and endeavour. Central to this role is the freedom of staff and students to teach, research, debate and learn independent of external political circumstance and pressure,” the peak body stated yesterday.

The best way to ensure universities adopt the Robert French proposal might be for its supporters off campus to stop demanding they do ot.


to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education