Policy Corporate Governance Academic Freedom Policy

Academic Freedom Policy

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The University is committed to the protection and promotion of academic freedom within the University.


The Policy applies to all members of Council, Staff, Affiliates and Students of the University.


Except as otherwise specified in this Policy or the Code of Conduct, the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom means the following:

(a)   the freedom of academic staff to teach, discuss, and research and to disseminate and publish the results of their research;

(b)   the freedom of academic staff and students to engage in intellectual inquiry, to express their opinions and beliefs, and to contribute to public debate, in relation to their subjects of study and research;

(c)   the freedom of academic staff and students to express their opinions in relation to the higher education provider in which they work or are enrolled;

(d)   the freedom of academic staff to participate in professional or representative academic bodies;

(e)   the freedom of students to participate in student societies and associations;

(f)    the autonomy of the higher education provider in relation to the choice of academic courses and offerings, the ways in which they are taught and the choices of research activities and the ways in which they are conducted.


Is a person (other than a Staff member or Student, including Higher Degree by Research Candidates) who is affiliated with JCU by letter of appointment or invitation to work, research or study at the University for a particular activity and typically for a prescribed timeframe and who is bound to comply with the University’s policies during that period (for example, visiting scholars and adjunct appointees).

1. Principles

1.1  Council members, Staff, Affiliates and Students will value academic freedom, and enquire, examine, criticise and challenge in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth.

1.2  Academic freedom includes the rights to:

1.2.1 hold and express opinions about the operations of the University and higher education policy more generally

1.2.2 pursue critical and open inquiry and (where appropriate) to teach, assess, develop curricula, publish and research;

1.2.3 participate, in a personal capacity, in public debates about political and social issues;

1.2.4 where appropriate, participate in public debates as a recognised expert or as a person with recognised specialist knowledge;

1.2.5 participate, in a personal capacity, in professional and representative bodies including industrial associations and to engage in community service without fear of harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment;

1.2.6 participate in student clubs, societies and associations and engage in student organised events and activities without fear harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment;

1.2.7 express unpopular or controversial views, although this does not mean the right to harass, vilify or intimidate other persons or to demean alternative points of view.

1.3  Staff, affiliates and students must not suffer any penalties because of the exercise of these rights, but do remain at all times subject to the law, the terms of their engagement with the University and the University’s policies and procedures including the respective Codes of Conduct.

1.4  In the exercise of Academic Freedom and in respect to the University’s duty to foster the wellbeing of Students and Staff, the respective Codes of Conduct describe the obligations of Council members, Staff, Affiliates and Students to act with integrity, have respect for others and seek excellence as part of a learning community i.e., that academic freedom is expressed within a professional and ethical framework and with intellectual rigour, and scientific inquiry.

2.  Grievance processes

2.1  Where a Staff member or Affiliate believes their right to Academic Freedom has been restricted or limited this may be addressed through the Resolving Workplace Grievances and Complaints Procedure.

2.2  For Students, Academic Freedom grievances are addressed through the Student Complaints Management Policy and Procedures.

2.3  For members of Council, the matter is to be referred to the Chancellor.

Related documents and legislation

Code of Conduct - University Council and Explanatory Statement

JCU Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Resolving Workplace Grievances and Complaints Procedure

Staff Code of Conduct and Explanatory Statement

Student Code of Conduct

Student Complaints Management Policy and Procedures

Visiting Speaker and Event Policy

Higher Education Support Act (2003)


Approval Details

Policy Sponsor/s

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next review


Revision History


Approval date

Approved by

Implementation date





Interim approval by Vice Chancellor


Policy established

Chief of Staff


Academic freedom