Universities Australia said the 57-page report into freedom of expression and academic freedom on campuses, undertaken by Professor Sally Walker AM, would be closely studied by the sector.
Professor Walker’s review examined the progress made by universities against the principles of the model code produced by former Chief Justice of the High Court Robert French in 2019.
Universities Australia Chair Professor Deborah Terry said: “Last year, universities agreed to adopt, adapt or ensure the principles of the French model code were reflected in the broad suite of policies that cover freedom of expression at universities.”
“Professor Walker’s review found that 23 – more than half of the nation’s comprehensive universities – had policies that are fully or mostly aligned to the model code. The rest are on their way to getting there. The important thing is to get this right.”
“Universities have been working carefully through their processes with university governing bodies and broader university communities. As autonomous institutions, with diverse missions, each university’s process will be different. Some universities have completed that complex process. Some have not.”
“Every university will now be looking closely at the Walker report and assessing if further action is required.”
“Freedom of expression and academic freedom are fundamental to how we operate,” Professor Terry added.
Universities Australia’s member universities affirmed their commitment to the founding ideals of university communities — academic freedom and freedom of expression. At the November 2018 Plenary the 39 members agreed that: ‘Australian universities restate our enduring commitment to academic freedom and intellectual inquiry. We also restate our enduring commitment to freedom of expression on our campuses and among our staff and students.’