UNSW VC responds to Human Rights Watch report

Ian Jacobs says there are  policies in-place and a review underway

In his regular message yesterday VC Ian Jacobs assured staff that the university iscommitted to upholding the highest levels of academic freedom and freedom of speech,” and “take(s) the safety and security of our students and staff extremely seriously.” The reason what surely should not need saying does is last week’s Human Rights Watch report on harassment of students from China on Australian campuses (CMM June 30 and July 1) – in which UNSW is critically mentioned.  Ditto in a hearing of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which is inquiring into foreign interference in Australian universities.

But Professor Jacobs says the university has conduct codes in-place and ways for staff/students to complain anonymously if “a person has caused them to fear for their safety.”

Plus, a “review of policies and practices “was underway” before the HRW report.

“Our review will include consulting with our students and staff to make sure their voice is an important part of this process,” Professor Jacobs said.

Perhaps this will convince critics that UNSW has not been anxious to avoid upsetting China’s government and its supporters at the university.

Or perhaps it won’t.