In accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015, this policy articulates how Federation University Australia (the University) will promote and protect academic freedom.
This policy ensures that academic freedom is a defining value of the University pursuant to the objects of the Model Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in Australian Higher Education Providers.
This policy applies across the University, including:
- The University’s Council, officers, employees, students and other decision-making bodies, including those involved in academic governance.
- Student representative bodies to the extent that they have policies and rules which are capable of being applied to restrict academic freedom.
- Federation University Australia Act 2010 (Vic)
- Higher Education Support Act 2003
- Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015
- National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011
- Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2014
- Education and Training Reform Act 2006
- Commonwealth discrimination legislation, including the Age Discrimination Act 2004, Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
- Victorian discrimination legislation, including the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
Academic Freedom comprises the following:-
|academic staff||means all those who are employed by the university to teach and/or carry out research and extends to those who provide, whether on an honorary basis or otherwise, teaching services and/or conduct research at the university.|
|freedom of speech||means the freedom of staff, students, and invited visitors to the University to express lawful opinions publicly, without undue restriction.|
|imposed by law||in relation to restrictions or burdens or conditions on a freedom include restrictions or burdens or conditions imposed by statute law, the common law (including the law of defamation), duties of confidentiality, restrictions deriving from intellectual property law and restrictions imposed by contract.|
|invited visiting speaker||any person who has been invited by the university to speak on the university’s land or facilities.|
|speech||extends to all forms of expressive conduct including oral speech and written, artistic, musical and performing works and activity and communication using social media; the word ‘speak’ has a corresponding meaning.|
|staff||means all employees of the university whether full-time or part-time and whether or not academic staff.|
|University policies||includes University statutes, regulations, policies, procedures, codes of conduct, guidelines and manuals, as amended from time to time.|
|unlawful||means in contravention of a prohibition or restriction or condition imposed by law.|
|wellbeing of students and staff||
Academic freedom is a defining value of the University. This policy sets out the means by which the University promotes and protects academic freedom, but it is not to be inferred that the statements in this policy automatically extend to the broader right to freedom of speech.
Academic freedom is essential to the purpose of the University and central to the advancement of knowledge through research, scholarship, and teaching. The University fully supports the rights of its staff and students to engage in open and robust debate in the pursuit of truth and understanding, and to hear and express diverse opinions and beliefs as they do so.
Academic freedom of expression is not restricted except by:
- Limits imposed by law; or
- University policies designed to prevent undue disruption to its activities, or undue risk to the wellbeing of students and staff; or
- Reasonable requirements imposed by the University as necessary to give effect to its legal duties and its teaching and research activities.
Subject to these limitations, academic staff and students, as well as invited visiting speakers, have the right to express their opinions freely and to hear those of others.
The University will:
- Protect and promote academic freedom in the conduct of its affairs, so that all academic staff and students may engage in inquiry, research, scholarship, teaching, or public commentary without fear or favour.
- Recognise viewpoint diversity and the right to express opinions on University campuses and in public forums such as the media.
- Investigate complaints and issues regarding abuses of or undue restrictions on academic freedom through the Chair of Academic Board.
University academic staff and students have the right to:
- Exercise academic freedom by expressing opinions without fear of being harassed, intimidated or vilified by other staff or students.
- Express opinions through acts of speech, without being subject to undue restriction or sanction by the University.
- Express opinions that may be unpopular or controversial, and that may cause offence; while recognising that this does not mean the right to harass, intimidate or vilify any other individuals or groups.
University staff and students have a responsibility to:
- Act lawfully and ethically.
- Respect the rights of others.
- Observe University policies.
- Express views with intellectual honesty.
- Make it clear that a view they express is their own, not that of the University.
Bullying Prevention Policy and Procedure
Regulation 6.1 – Student Discipline
Regulation 2.2.2 Academic Board (terms of reference)
Security Policy and Procedure
Social Media Policy and Procedure
Space Management Policy and Procedure
Staff Consultancy Policy and Procedure
University Council (as Approval Authority) is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this policy and its accompanying procedure.
Chair, Academic Board (as Policy Sponsor) is responsible for maintaining the content of this policy as delegated by Academic Board.
The Academic Freedom Policy will be communicated throughout the University via:
- An Announcement Notice under ‘FedNews’ website and through the University Policy - ‘Recently Approved Documents’ webpage to alert the University-wide community of the approved Policy.
- Inclusion on the Policies, Procedures and Forms section of the University’s website to alert the University-wide community of the approved Policy.
The Academic Freedom Policy will be implemented across the University.