Chequebook Research Threatens Academic Freedom
The New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) is today warning that yesterday’s threats from the Vice Chancellor to “summarily fire’ members of staff who “talk down” the institution will become common place as universities compete for commercially based research funding.
“The Vice Chancellor’s comments pose a threat to academic freedom at Auckland University. It is imperative that we uphold the legislative right for academics to put forward new ideas that may conflict with their peers and institutions,” said NZUSA Co-President Charlie Chambers.
“Universities have become increasingly reliant on private research funding to maintain their operations. Too often the need to seek revenue is a higher priority than seeking knowledge,” said Chambers.
“If academics are not permitted to question and criticise new research programmes, we can expect to see the suspension of rigorous research, and findings skewed to produce the results desired by those holding the chequebook.”
“If the government is truly committed to creating a knowledge society, there needs to be a stronger commitment to funding universities and greater support for those research programmes that do not necessarily have commercial application,” said Chambers.