The Meaning of Academic Freedom: The Significance of Ridd v James Cook University

(2021) 43 Sydney Law Review 241

18 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2021

See all articles by Adrienne Stone

Adrienne Stone

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: August 3, 2021

Abstract

The case of Ridd v James Cook University raises important questions as to the content and scope of the principle of academic freedom, and its application to public criticism of academic research and university governance. It presents a rare opportunity for the High Court of Australia to consider the legal content of the principle of academic freedom, and the outcome of the case will likely be very significant for Australian universities. This article provides a principled foundation to suggest that James Cook University’s termination of Professor Ridd contravened critical and widely accepted aspects of the principle of academic freedom. It takes issue with the majority decision of the Full Federal Court of Australia under appeal on two bases. First, it suggests that the majority paid insufficient regard to the principle of academic freedom, which should properly have informed the interpretation of the provisions of the relevant university enterprise agreement relating to ‘intellectual freedom’. Second, given the requirements of the principle of academic freedom and the principle’s centrality to the purposes of a university, the particular provision that protects ‘intellectual freedom’ should have been understood, in some circumstances, to take priority over the code of conduct that Ridd was found to have breached.

Keywords: Academic freedom, freedom of speech, High Court of Australia

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Stone, Adrienne, The Meaning of Academic Freedom: The Significance of Ridd v James Cook University (August 3, 2021). (2021) 43 Sydney Law Review 241, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3898351

Adrienne Stone (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
110
Abstract Views
893
rank
354,638
PlumX Metrics