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.

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, is consistent with any relevant terms of employment, and conforms to the University’s policies and procedures including its Codes of Conduct.  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.  In addition to academic freedom, the University of South Australia respects the rights of all of its members, within the law and, insofar as they apply, within the parameters of its policies and procedures, to express views as private citizens, provided that it is clear that these are the views of the individual concerned and not the views of the University.

Statement Approved by University of South Australia Council on Thursday 22 August 2019