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Policy Corporate Governance Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy


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Intent

The University is committed to the protection and promotion of academic freedom and freedom of speech within the University. Academic freedom and freedom of speech are both of paramount value and are foundational to all of the University's endeavours and operations as an educational institution premised on the importance of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth.

Neither the exercise of academic freedom nor the exercise of freedom of speech is to be burdened by restrictions or burdens other than those imposed by law and set out in the Principles of this Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy.

Scope

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

Definitions

Except as otherwise specified in this Policy, 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.

Academic staff

For the purposes of this policy only, academic staff means all staff associated with academic activity, including professional or support staff.

Affiliate

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).

Duty to foster the wellbeing of students and staff

(a) includes the duty to ensure that no member of staff and no student suffers unfair disadvantage or unfair adverse discrimination on any basis recognised at law including race, gender, sexuality, religion and political belief;

(b) includes the duty to ensure that no member of staff and no student is subject to threatening or intimidating behaviour by another person or persons on account of anything they have said or proposed to say in exercising their freedom of speech;

(c) supports reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent any person from using lawful speech which a reasonable person would regard, in the circumstances, as likely to humiliate or intimidate other persons and which is intended to have either or both of those effects;

(d) does not extend to a duty to protect any person from feeling offended or shocked or insulted by the lawful speech of another.

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.

1. Operation

1.1  The University has regard to the principles of the French Model Code in the drafting, review or amendment of University policy documents. University policy documents are interpreted and applied, so far as is reasonably practicable, in accordance with the French Model Code, as set out in this Policy. Any power or discretion under a University policy document will be exercised in accordance with this Policy.

1.2  This Policy prevails, to the extent of any inconsistency, over any policy or procedure of the University.

2. Principles

2.1  Council members, Staff, Affiliates and Students will:

2.1.1 value Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech, and enquire, examine, criticise and challenge in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth; and

2.1.2 in the exercise of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech and in respect to the University’s duty to foster the wellbeing of Students and Staff, act with integrity, have respect for others and seek excellence as part of a learning community.

2.2  Academic Freedom includes the rights to:

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

2.2.2 pursue critical and open inquiry and to teach, assess, develop curricula, publish and research;

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

2.2.4 participate in public debates as a recognised expert or as a person with recognised specialist knowledge;

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

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

2.2.7 express unpopular or controversial views, although this does not mean the right to harass, vilify, discriminate against or intimidate other persons.

2.3  Every member of the staff and every student at the university enjoys freedom of speech exercised on university land or in connection with the university subject only to restraints or burdens imposed by:

2.3.1 law;

2.3.2 the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct necessary to the discharge of the university’s teaching and research activities;

2.3.3 the right and freedom of others to express themselves and to hear and receive information and opinions;

2.3.4 the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct to enable the university to fulfil its duty to foster the wellbeing of students and staff;

2.3.5 the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct necessary to enable the university to give effect to its legal duties including its duties to visitors to the university.

2.4  Subject to reasonable and proportionate regulation of the kind referred to in the previous Principle, a person’s lawful speech on the university’s land or in or in connection with a university activity shall not constitute misconduct nor attract any penalty or other adverse action by reference only to its content.

2.5  Every member of the academic staff and every student enjoys academic freedom subject only to prohibitions, restrictions or conditions:

2.5.1 imposed by law;

2.5.2 imposed by the reasonable and proportionate regulation necessary to the discharge of the university’s teaching and research activities;

2.5.3 imposed by the reasonable and proportionate regulation necessary to discharge the university’s duty to foster the wellbeing of students and staff;

2.5.4 imposed by the reasonable and proportionate regulation to enable the university to give effect to its legal duties;

2.5.5 imposed by the university by way of its reasonable requirements as to the courses to be delivered and the content and means of their delivery.

2.5.6  The exercise by a member of the academic staff or of a student of academic freedom, subject to the above limitations, shall not constitute misconduct nor attract any penalty or other adverse action.

3. Grievance processes

3.1  Where a Council member, Staff member, Affiliate or Student believes their right to Academic Freedom or freedom of speech has been unreasonably restricted or limited, the following grievance processes apply:

3.1.1 Resolving Workplace Grievances and Complaints Procedure for Staff and Affiliates;

3.1.2 Student Complaint Policy for Students; and

3.1.3 referral to the Chancellor for members of Council.

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

Student Code of Conduct

Student Complaints Policy

Student Complaints Procedures

Visiting Speaker and Event Policy

Higher Education Support Act (2003)

Administration

Approval Details

Policy DomainCorporate Governance

Policy Sponsor

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority

Council

Date for next review

01/11/2022

Revision History

Version

Approval date

Approved by

Implementation date

Details

Author

21-229/07/2021Council29/07/2021Amendments include freedom of speech, definitions for academic staff and duty to foster safety and wellbeingChief of Staff

21-1

18/03/2021

Council

17/05/2021

Policy amended and adopted by Council

Chief of Staff

20-1

18/12/2020

Vice Chancellor

18/12/2020

Interim Policy approved by Vice Chancellor

Chief of Staff

Keywords

Academic freedom, Freedom of speech

Contact personChief of Staff