Congress instructs the NEC to bring to Congress in 2018 a statement in defence of Academic Freedom as an addition to UCU Rules Section 2 ‘Aims and Objects’.
In reflecting on the wording of this amendment the NEC will consider the Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) principles of Academic Freedom:
(1) that academics, both inside and outside the classroom, have unrestricted liberty to question and test received wisdom and to put forward controversial and unpopular opinions, whether or not these are deemed offensive, and
(2) that academic institutions have no right to curb the exercise of this freedom by members of their staff, or to use it as grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.
The Rules of the University and College Union are silent on academic freedom – the freedom that defines the academy. In increasingly censorious times lecturers need their union to give the highest priority to academic freedom. The motion above is the first step towards creating a union that defends our freedom. It was passed unanimously by the East Midlands Region of UCU on Saturday 21 January – so it will be debated at congress. But we need more Branches and Regions to put it forward and build support so that congress will adopt the proposal. Canterbury Christ Church University are going to consider it, as is the University of Derby. AFAF asks other UCU Branches and Regions to support this important motion.