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Staff welcome Canterbury’s academic freedom policy

Media release
21 March 2014
Tertiary Education Union - Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa

Staff welcome Canterbury’s academic freedom policy

The Tertiary Education Union at the University of Canterbury welcomes the new Academic Freedom Policy

TEU’s Canterbury Branch President Prof. Jack Heinemann is delighted that the university’s council has demonstrated its commitment to academic freedom through this policy.

“At a time when university governance is under threat from central government it is more important than ever that all in the sector speak out on important issues,” said Heinemann.

The Education Act expects both academic staff and students at universities to serve as responsible critics and conscience of society.

“It is an important social safeguard for society. This group of scholars is meant to speak truth to power, whatever form that power takes.”

There are no incentives for this critical activity, despite it potentially putting scholars at risk.

“The critic and conscience role is not optional. It is a duty of the tertiary education community. It needs to be better recognised and supported.”

“Students expect that their instructors will be well-informed and capable of engaging with controversial issues of the day. Society expects that those same instructors and researchers will look after all interests, not just the government’s, industry’s or pressure groups’.

“I see this policy as a necessary step to normalise responsible dissent, and support academics to engage with the broader public in New Zealand,” said Heinemann.

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