Academic Freedom and Responsibility

A guide for RMIT academic staff and student choices about how and what they research and teach and the terms on which they engage in public commentary.

Commitment Statement

RMIT University was founded on the land of the Wurendjeri People of the Kulin Nation and we pay our respects to their elders, past, present and future.

Universities are important sites for the production and re-production of knowledge. Universities are also places where free and open inquiry thrives and where systems of knowledge are critiqued and challenged. Claims and assertions are not taken at face value and cannot be based simply on emotion and personal belief; arguments must be substantiated by rigorous scholarship and supported by evidence.

In this context, RMIT University is a community of scholars and teachers united by the shared commitment to the value of research, education and scholarship for the practical betterment of humanity. Our intellectual community includes teachers, academics, researchers and students who span the vocational and higher education spectrum.

RMIT University upholds and protects the right of members of our community of scholars to be intellectually curious, to be forthright in the respectful expression of informed views and to be able to express their views free from undue institutional constraint.

Scholars exercising their right to academic freedom do so with an awareness of – and acceptance of – their responsibilities with respect to satisfying the principles of academic and research integrity, including declaring any relevant affiliations and potential conflicts of interest, and acknowledging the rights of others to express differing views.

RMIT University recognises that given their role in producing, re-producing and critiquing knowledge, members of our community of scholars often speak from positions of power and influence. Our commitment to being intellectually curious is founded on the inclusive principle that the advancement of knowledge is best achieved through active participation of marginalised groups.

Scope

This Commitment Statement - and Commitment Statements addressing other priorities like student mental wellbeing - will sit alongside RMIT’s values and will help to contextualise RMIT policy. This Statement – which applies to RMIT staff and students – covers all activities related to the production, re-production and critiquing of knowledge, including teaching and research activities.

The status and proposed effect of the Statement

This Statement is offered as a guide to the choices RMIT academic staff and students make about how and what they research and teach and the terms on which they engage in public commentary. 

Can the Statement be used to discipline staff or students?

No. It is intended to be an ethical guide to underpin academic activity at RMIT University. This Statement is consistent with RMIT’s values – passion, impact, inclusion, agility, courage and innovation.

Rules regarding disciplinary proceedings for staff and students are set out in the relevant policies.

This Statement cannot be used by RMIT staff and students as a justification or defence for behaviour that is unlawful. Investigations of conduct that is in breach of RMIT policies regarding staff and student conduct will be managed in accordance with the relevant policy processes.

Can someone make a complaint based on an allegation that the Statement has not been honoured?

Yes. Those who feel that a member of RMIT’s intellectual community may have acted in a way that is inconsistent with the Statement may write to the Chair of the Academic Board setting out their complaint. The Chair may decide to investigate the complaint, drawing on the advice of a panel of experts. The outcome of the investigation is non-binding but is to be used to try to reach an amicable settlement of the complaint with a view to upholding high standards. The Chair may recommend that the matters raised be referred to University management for their consideration under the authority granted to them through other policies (including the Code of Conduct).

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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