The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is concerned by news that the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation without consulting with the University’s staff.
“No NTEU representatives were consulted or notified about the negotiations or the existence of the MOU,” Dr Leah Kaufmann, NTEU ACU Branch President said today. “This leaves union members and all staff at the ACU completely in the dark about what University management is agreeing to in their names.”
While the Union welcomes the University’s commitment to follow the statutory and established procedures for approving courses, the fact that ACU staff were not consulted or given a voice on the text of the MOU means that the impacts of this agreement on staff cannot have been genuinely considered by University management.
“We’re disappointed with ACU management’s lack of transparency and failing to engage with the university community in reaching an MOU with the Ramsay Centre,” NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said today.
“We would have expected that any draft MOU would have to be made public and held up to scrutiny before any deal was signed,” Dr Barnes said. “ACU’s reputation is at stake. Staff, students and the public need to be confident that institutional autonomy and academic freedom are scrupulously protected.”
Dr Kaufmann said “The Union calls on University management to immediately release the full text of the MOU to all ACU staff, and if appropriate, immediately begin the formal consultation and change management processes that are required by our Enterprise Agreement at the ACU.”
“We also call on University management to guarantee that all University governance processes will be entirely safeguarded against any external influence, and make a commitment that no employee of the ACU will have an increase in their workload as a result of any potential units or courses introduced at the ACU.”
Other quotes attributable to NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes:
“Open governance is at the core of academic freedom and for this reason, the details must be made public. A secret agreement that excludes staff, students and unions from negotiations runs contrary to the spirit of transparency.”
“ACU receives public funds and therefore has a responsibility to make the details of the Ramsay agreement public.”
“Secretive discussions may avoid controversy; however, this approach is not compatible with the goals of academic freedom that define a modern university.”
Other quotes attributable to NTEU ACU Branch President Dr Leah Kaufmann:
“Staff and students of the Australian Catholic University have been blindsided by the Vice-Chancellor’s Ramsay announcement.”
“Given the great controversy surrounding the proposal to establish the Ramsay Centre at other institutions, colleagues are shocked they have not been consulted prior to the decision being made. Extensive internal collegial processes are available to the Vice-Chancellor for this purpose.”