Hau Taki Haere | TertiaryUpdate Vol 25, No 13

On 31 August and 1 September 2021, TEU will be co-hosting the Academic Freedom Conference: Challenges & Opportunities at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa | Massey University in Wellington.

TEU’s Academic Freedom Conference will provide a platform to critique the current state of academic freedom and the critic and conscience function afforded to all public tertiary education institutions, and to develop actions that will ensure academic freedom is preserved and enhanced. The two-day conference will focus on academic critiques and on workshops aimed at advancing the rights and responsibilities afforded to those working and studying in the public tertiary education sector.

Ahead of Conference, TEU has released a programme of panels, papers, and plenaries. Associate Professor Alona Ben-Tal is a mathematician and Deputy Head of School of Natural and Computational Sciences at Massey University, and will be speaking on a panel exploring causes of the current crisis in academic freedom, and says the role of universities is not just to pass on knowledge but also to create new, reliable, and independent knowledge for the public good,

‘The importance of academic expertise has been demonstrated recently in the successful response of New Zealand to Covid-19. The ability of academics to research what they like, teach in a manner they think best promotes learning and speak out publicly is key for protecting democratic societies. However, recent events at Massey exposed weaknesses in the Education and Training Act that put public good at risk. The conference will facilitate discussions of these issues and an exploration of possible solutions’.

According to Tumu Whakarae | National President, Tina Smith, the Conference is a timely contribution to an ongoing discussion within Aotearoa on academic freedom, and the role of tertiary education staff and institutions as critic and conscience of society,

‘Covering topics ranging from activism and critical voices, Māori and indigenous knowledge, to ensuring academic freedom within our reformed vocational education and training sector, Conference attendees will be part of a conversation exploring the many challenges and opportunities academic freedom faces. We are set to have a fantastic and diverse ranges of speakers and panel members in attendance’.

Ahead of Conference, TEU member Professor Jane Kelsey has also shared a Brief history of Academic Freedom and the Union, and earlier this year shared what Academic Freedom Means in Contemporary Aotearoa.

Also in this update:

·      Te Pūkenga release Te Rito: Insights from learners and staff

·      TeIra Tangata: Women, Equity and Activism in Aotearoa

·      The Dawn Raid Apology: A point of clearing on our path

·      TEU member awarded MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship funding

·      TEU Branch Representative inductions

Other stories:

PBRF changes – government fiddles while the tertiary sector burns - TEU

Michael Neill: Humanities in peril as universities wind down studies – NZ Herald

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga applauds changes to Performance Based Research Fund - Voxy

COVID-19 commentary features again in Critic and Conscience of Society Awards - Voxy