Co-Chairs:  Jonathan Stone and Rebecca Mason

Draft Terms of Reference                                                           

Academic Freedom and Professional Development Committee        (Draft) 08.08.21

John Hearn (Chair), Brad Buckley, Manuel Graeber

Terms of Reference. The AFPD advises the USAP Council on high level policy for academic freedom and values to enhance the collegial development of the University. The purpose is to support the VC and University in achieving best national and international practice, while identifying malpractice or abuse.

  • Academic Freedom, Freedom of Speech and International Relations/Interference. The AFPD will monitor national and international developments in these policy areas, focusing on the U-Sydney use or abuse in specific cases, including code of practice, managerialism, bullying and harassment.
  • Professional Development. The AFPD will focus on the management of Professorial staff, including examples of bad supervision, gaps in academic – administrative procedure, abuse of PMD process and promotions policy, the treatment of Emeriti, coercive control, and the EB agreement.  

Terms of Operation. It is unlikely that the AFPD can have the scope and resources for gathering many case histories and details of abuse. Thus the focus will be on perceived abuse once university HR or internal appeals process is complete, and a selection of case histories that can be presented to the  Vice Chancellor as appropriate, with requests for attention, review and action. The AFPD Committee may request (confidential) case histories from its members, selecting blatant abuse to follow up and request change.

Targets and Impact. The AFPD will work with the endorsement of the USAP Council to propose positive and supportive actions by the University that strengthen the academic life and credibility of the Professoriate and staff. One initiative for attention is a proposal for a University Ombud (or Ombuds in the five faculties) who would be respected academic leaders, possibly Emeriti, independent and paid for part time duties.

Documentation and Data. The AFPD will seek and select a data base of world’s best practice in the above areas, to include University leadership, Professorial engagement, National (UUAP) and international (American AAUP) links.

Activities 2021-22.  The AFPD will establish a profile and practice for positive development of the University, Professoriate, academic and professional staff. Activities in addition to the above may include the convening of academic workshops or fora to focus on issues needing attention. The objective is a trusting partnership with the university management, with access to university data required to operate.

Notes. These Draft Terms of Reference were endorsed by the USAP Council on 8 July 2021. They are being developed further and are brought to the AGM on 12 August for the information and participation of USAP Members. Further work is required, including on:

  1. Confidentiality – many colleagues (rightly) fear victimisation or dismissal if they complain;
  2. Culture – the unfortunate gap that has widened, especially in the past ten years, between the corporate administration/management and the Professors and the academic community;
  3. Communication – internal with members, external with government and media.
  4. Cooperation – the USAP Council and AFPD committee are not looking for an adversarial or negative approach. We seek teamwork and positive development for the success of our University.