AUSTRALIA: New bill to protect academic freedom

Academic freedom would be explicitly protected under legislation introduced by the Gillard government. The proposals honour a commitment made by the Labour Party before last year's election and follows lobbying by the National Tertiary Education Union, writes Dan Harrison for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The bill would change the objectives of the Higher Education Support Act to include promoting and protecting free intellectual inquiry. It will also make it a condition of funding that universities have a policy that upholds academic freedom in learning and teaching.

The Coalition is yet to consider the proposals, but they are not expected to be controversial. Academic freedom returned to the news last month when a Liberal senator, Julian McGauran, used parliamentary privilege to call on the University of Melbourne to sack its professorial fellow, the psychiatrist Graham Burrows, over evidence he gave in the trial of Arthur Freeman, who was found guilty of murdering his daughter, Darcey.
Full report on the Sydney Morning Herald site

AUSTRALIA: Standards for overseas students' safety

Universities will need to provide housing guarantees to international students when the Australian Human Rights Commission releases its minimum standards for student safety later this year, writes Yuko Narushima for the Sydney Morning Herald.

A draft of the standards, obtained by the Herald, outlines measures to protect Australia's 470,000 international students from inadequate housing, work exploitation and violence. "Registered education providers should, where possible, provide affordable on-campus accommodation options and in particular guarantee such accommodation for international students who are most vulnerable because they are enrolled in their first year of study," says the 'Draft Minimum Standards for International Student Welfare document. They also recommend public transport concessions for all students, regardless of their citizenship or mode of study.
Full report on the Sydney Morning Herald site