2 October, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leaked University of Auckland survey confirms again, Academic Freedom is under fire
An internal University of Auckland survey has once again confirmed concerns that the Free Speech Union has raised for several years: academic freedom is under fire in New Zealand. This is a serious issue, but our leaders have their hands in the sand. We must be willing to face 'groupthink' and denounce its proponents, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
"Today, BusinessDesk journalists Victoria Young and Oliver Lewis reported very low scores on a range of issues in a survey leaked to them. Responding to the statement, 'I feel able to respectfully voice my views without fear of any negative impact', only 15% of academic staff in the law school agreed.
"The summary of the University of Auckland survey itself notes 'Academic staff responses are unfavourable and statistically unfavourable in regards to respectfully voicing their view.
"Inexplicably, the Tertiary Education Union, the outfit responsible for representing university staffs' interests and voices, refused to comment on these results. A university spokeswoman claimed 'the survey results for the Law School reflect broad trends across the university.
"These results are even lower than the results from this year's Free Speech Union Academic Freedom Survey, where only 46% of staff across all eight universities agreed they felt free to question received wisdom and state controversial and unpopular opinions.
"Many responses in that survey referred to a 'climate of fear' and a large number mentioned concerns about job security of barriers to promotion for expressing the 'wrong' views. Across every metric, responses indicate academics feel less free than they did last year.
"Freedom in the university sector is stagnating, and its leaders either don’t know or don’t care. We need to pay attention and do something- our future is far more bleak without solutions, as disruptive or unexpected as they may be, that move us forward."
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