University of South Australia: Statement on Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is the freedom of academic staff and students to engage in scholarly inquiry and the production of scholarly works that includes the freedom to investigate a range of divergent views and to interrogate accepted wisdom; and to participate in scholarly discourse in an ethical, inclusive and factually informed manner, including the freedom to express academically informed but unconventional or unpopular views, free from undue institutional, political or commercial restraint. It incorporates the right of staff and students to express opinions in relation to the University and to participate in professional or representative academic bodies, student societies and student associations.

Academic freedom is an extension of University autonomy, fundamental to the role of the University as a place of intellectual discovery and the advancement of knowledge, as well as a place for exploring and understanding culture and for helping students to learn, including learning to discriminate between the valid and invalid.

In exercising their right to academic freedom, academic staff and students will do so in accordance with accepted standards of scholarly practice and in accordance with principles of research integrity. In their dealings with others, staff will act honestly and in good faith, declaring real or perceived conflicts of interest in all instances.

Staff, students and visitors will exhibit mutual respect, collegiality and tolerance for each other and will foster inclusive and open discussion so as to create a positive environment for the exchange and debate of ideas by all members of its community.

The University commits to upholding and defending the exercise of academic freedom by its academic staff, students and visitors provided this occurs within the law and is consistent with any relevant terms of employment. The University will ensure that its policies and procedures are informed by and support this commitment. All other restrictions upon academic freedom imposed for institutional, political or commercial purposes should therefore be avoided, or where they cannot be avoided, minimised as much as possible.

The University expects its staff, students and visitors to the University to respect diversity in exercising their right to academic freedom and will not tolerate behaviour that amounts to or facilitates bullying, harassment, breaches of privacy, threats, discrimination, expresses racial or religious intolerance, or encourages violence against others.

Academic freedom is closely aligned with but distinct from freedom of speech. The University’s commitment to ensuring the freedom of speech of its staff and students is set out in its Freedom of Speech Policy.

Both the Statement on Academic Freedom and the Freedom of Speech Policy are informed by and align with the Model Code for the Protection of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in Australian Higher Education Providers.


Developed by: Academic Board
Approving Authority: Council
Commencement Date: 3 August 2021
History: This Statement supersedes and replaces the version of this Statement that was approved by University of South Australia Council on Thursday 22 August 2019.