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Academic Freedom policy

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Policy is effective from 17 December 2019.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Policy provides guidance to the expression of academic freedom consistent with the University’s commitment to uphold and protect academic freedom as a defining characteristic of the University.

(3) For the purposes of this Policy academic freedom is understood to be the principle where scholars can work, publish and comment on areas of scholarship where they possess demonstrable expertise.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Policy applies to the expression of academic freedom in University activities or operations, including, but not limited to, online activities or operations.

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Section 4 - Policy

Right to academic freedom

(5) Academic freedom is valued as a defining characteristic of the University. The University is committed to the promotion and protection of academic freedom, so that all scholars at the University are free to engage in critical enquiry, scholarly endeavour, creative endeavours and public discourse.

(6) The University supports the right of all scholars to search for truth, and to hold and express diverse opinions. The University recognises that this may include the expression of unpopular or controversial views.

(7) The University supports the right of scholars, within their area of expertise, to:

  1. teach, discuss, and research and to disseminate and publish the results of their research
  2. engage in critical inquiry and robust and unfettered scholarly debate
  3. exercise the right of academic freedom without fear of harassment, bullying, intimidation or unfair treatment
  4. speak, hear and receive, write and publish, or perform, create and exhibit without being subject to University sanction, censorship or discipline
  5. not be burdened or restricted unreasonably in the exercise of academic freedom by contractual or collaborative third party arrangements or conditions.

(8) The University supports and encourages freedom of lawful speech as set out in the Freedom of Speech policy as a necessary condition for academic freedom.

Responsibilities of scholars in exercising academic freedom

(9) Like all rights, a scholar’s right to academic freedom carries with it responsibilities. There is a duty, responsibility and obligation on scholars to exercise their right to academic freedom subject to the following principles:

  1. scholars are responsible for the content of their scholarly works
  2. scholars act reasonably, professionally and in good faith
  3. scholars act lawfully, including in accordance with laws regulating defamation, harassment, vilification and obscene speech, and other applicable legislation
  4. scholars act in accordance with principles of academic and research ethics.

(10) Scholars may exercise freedom of lawful speech on matters not protected by this Policy provided it is taken solely in their private capacity.

(11) By recognising, promoting and supporting the right to academic freedom the University does not imply endorsement of particular views expressed by scholars. The views expressed are the views of the scholar even though an affiliation with the University is indicated. Views on behalf of the University can only be expressed by officials and executives because of the position they hold or by other University staff if specifically authorised to do so.

(12) In their exercise of academic freedom, scholars will at all time also observe the University's Code of Conduct and Student Code of Conduct respectively.

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Section 5 - Procedure

(13) There is no attendant procedure.

(14) The University will review associated documents following promulgation in accordance with published review schedules for alignment with this Policy.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(15) For the purpose of this Policy:

  1. demonstrable expertise: expertise commonly demonstrated by scholars through work and activity that has been subject to scholarly peer review, and other valid intellectual and professional criteria.
  2. scholars: includes all students, staff and associates of the university engaging in academic activities within their area of expertise.
  3. speech includes all forms of expressive conduct including oral speech and written, artistic, musical and performing works, peaceful protest and activity and communication using social media. The word ‘speak’ has a corresponding meaning.
  4. officials and executives: designated University spokespersons and members of the University Executive.