UTS:ACRI WEBINAR: Australian universities, the PRC and academic freedom

September 03 2020

The Australian higher education sector’s engagement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly with respect to issues involving academic freedom. Most recently, following criticism by some international PRC students and state media outlets, the University of New South Wales removed an article from their website and Twitter feed that featured comments critical of Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong. Such complaints by PRC students are often alleged to involve coordination by the PRC government. These sorts of incidents at universities prompted the Australian Education Minister, Dan Tehan, to this month launch a review into the adoption of the Model Code on Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom that universities had agreed to implement by the end of 2020.

What are the ways academic freedom can be infringed upon, particularly as they relate to the PRC? To what extent do actions against the expression of particular views taken by PRC students represent PRC students as a whole? How vulnerable are Australian universities to pressure aimed at curtailing academic freedoms?

The Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) hosted an online webinar with Dr Jonathan Benney, Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Monash University; Tim Dodd, Higher Education Editor at The Australian; and Margaret Simons, Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at Melbourne University, moderated by UTS:ACRI Director Professor James Laurenceson, to discuss these questions and more. 

Time: 11am - 12noon AEST


About the speakers

Jonathan Benney

Jonathan Benney is a lecturer in Chinese studies at Monash University. He studies and teaches contemporary China and its political terminology, communication, design, and new media, and is also interested in how Chinese studies is taught and learnt at Australian universities. His publications include the monograph Defending Rights in Contemporary China (2013) and articles on rights activism, local conflict resolution, online discourse, and use of social media.

Tim Dodd

Tim Dodd is Higher Education Editor at The Australian. He has over 25 years experience as a journalist covering a wide variety of areas in public policy, economics, politics and foreign policy, including reporting from the Canberra press gallery and four years based in Jakarta as South East Asia correspondent for The Australian Financial Review. He was named 2014 Higher Education Journalist of the Year by the National Press Club.

Margaret Simons

Margaret Simons is the Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at Melbourne University and an award-winning freelance journalist. She is the author of thirteen books, including a biography of Malcolm Fraser that was the 2011 Book of the Year at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. She won the 2015 Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism and has been honoured with several Quill Awards for journalistic excellence.

Ms Simons is also a journalism academic. Until the end of 2019, she was an Associate Professor in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. From 2012-2017 she was director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism and the coordinator of the innovative Master of Journalism degree at the University of Melbourne. Before joining the University of Melbourne, Ms Simons was convenor of Journalism at Swinburne University of Technology.


Event Information
September 03 2020
11:00 AM
Webinar (online-only)