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Academic Freedom of Expression Policy

Purpose

Scope

Principles

Policy statements

Policy ownership and support

Definitions

Approval information

PDF version

References


1. Purpose

1.1 The Academic Freedom of Expression Policy (the policy) supports:

2. Scope

2.1 This policy applies to staff, students, affiliates and visitors of the university.

2.2 The policy operates in collaboration with state and federal legislation as well as UTS rules, policies and enterprise agreements.

3. Principles

3.1 Academic freedom and freedom of expression are fundamental values of UTS, alongside adherence to scholarly standards and the university's core values (as outlined in the UTS 2027 strategy).

3.2 In addition to these values, UTS is committed to building a culture of diversity, respect and inclusion, integrating these into our everyday activities.

3.3 In exercising academic freedom and freedom of expression, UTS expects that staff, students, affiliates and visitors:

  • abide by Australian law (in particular the laws against discrimination, hate speech, harassment, vilification, etc)
  • comply with the Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy, and
  • act respectfully, courteously and professionally at all times.

3.4 In exercising academic freedom and freedom of expression, UTS expects that staff and students will comply with the Code of Conduct and the Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy (as relevant) at all times.

3.5 UTS expects that the professional standards and requirements of external codes such as the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research are upheld.

4. Policy statements

Rights and responsibilities

4.1 UTS will seek to protect and promote academic freedom in line with its values and commitments.

4.2 UTS staff have the right to:

  • pursue critical and open inquiry
  • research and publish
  • participate in public debates and express opinions, including unpopular or controversial opinions about issues and ideas
  • participate in an appropriate form in decision-making processes and structures germane to their field of expertise and onus of responsibility within the university
  • teach, assess and develop curricula within agreed collegial faculty processes, and
  • participate in professional and representative bodies, including unions, and engage in community service

without fear of harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment.

4.3 UTS students have the right to:

  • pursue critical and open inquiry in the context of their courses
  • research and publish in the context of their courses
  • participate in public debates and express opinions, including unpopular or controversial opinions about issues and ideas
  • participate in an appropriate form in decision-making processes and structures germane to their field of expertise and onus of responsibility within the university, and
  • participate in representative bodies

without fear of harassment, intimidation or unfair treatment.

4.4 UTS visitors have the right to participate in public debates and express opinions, including unpopular or controversial opinions about issues and ideas.

4.5 In addition to the principles outlined in section 3, in exercising academic freedom and freedom of expression, the UTS community must:

  • comply with the Campus Policy while on campus
  • have due regard to the need for reasoned discourse and debate as part of a positive learning and research culture
  • observe the confidentiality and privacy requirements of the Privacy Policy.

4.6 UTS's commitment to freedom of expression is embedded in university policies and enterprise agreements. Further guidance on how UTS upholds and protects academic freedom and freedom of expression is available at Academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Complaints, disagreements and breaches of policy

4.7 Complaints about the exercise of freedom of expression by others or breaches of the university’s behavioural standards will be managed in line with the Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy, the Code of Conduct and/or the Campus Policy as appropriate.

5. Policy ownership and support

5.1 Policy owner: The Vice-Chancellor is responsible, on behalf of UTS Council, for enforcement of and compliance with this policy, ensuring that its principles and statements are observed.

5.2 Policy contact: The Provost is responsible for the day to day implementation of this policy and acts as a primary point of contact for advice on fulfilling its provisions.

6. Definitions

The following definitions apply for this policy. These are in addition to the definitions outlined in Schedule 1, Student Rules.

Affiliates is defined in the Code of Conduct.

Academic freedom is the principle that staff and students should be free to conduct research, undertake learning and teaching, communicate and publish scholarly and other work subject to the standards of scholarship, without unreasonable interference, improper influence or restriction. UTS recognises that while academic freedom is a fundamental tenet of university life it is not an unrestricted right that allows unconstrained authority to operate outside the boundaries of professional and academic expertise. Academic freedom is currently expressed as 'free inquiry' in the UTS Act and 'free intellectual inquiry' in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cwlth).

Campus is defined in the Campus Policy.

Freedom of expression for the purposes of this policy means the right of a citizen or community member to express a view (orally, in writing or through creative or cultural practice) without the threat of repercussion or consequence, provided that the view or expression does not contravene other Australian laws or, for staff, students and affiliates, university rules or policy, as outlined in this policy.

Staff is defined in the Code of Conduct.

Student is defined in the Student Rules.

Approval information

Policy contact Provost
Approval authority Vice-Chancellor
Review date 2023
File number UR20/1646
Superseded documents New policy

Version history

Version Approved by Approval date Effective date Sections modified
1.0 Vice-Chancellor 15/10/2020 15/10/2020 New policy.

PDF version

Academic Freedom of Expression Policy (PDF 164KB)

References

Academic freedom and freedom of speech

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Campus Policy

Code of Conduct

Enterprise agreements: Academic Staff Agreement and Professional Staff Agreement

Equity, Inclusion and Respect Policy

Higher Education Standards Framework

Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cwlth)

Privacy Policy

Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy

University of Technology Sydney Act 1989 (NSW) (the Act)

UTS 2027 strategy