Introduction: Universities are communities dedicated to teaching, research and service. They are the focal points of open debate and discovery, underpinning the future economic and environmental sustainability of a staunchly democratic Australia. To succeed, Universities depend on a motivated workforce whose scholarly and pedagogical creativity flourishes best in an atmosphere of trust and stability. These simple pre-conditions for success have been undermined as Australian Universities moved towards a corporate business model with commercialisation principles that have depersonalised the University experience, undermined education outcomes, trust, loyalty and commitment. This trend has occurred in response to government policies aimed at developing education as an export industry, whilst national funding for Higher Education (HE) has gradually reduced. Conceived in the late 1980’s, the current commercialisation model for HE has run its course, as we have to respond to new challenges brought about by rapid advances in technology, consumer demands, environmental concerns and changing geopolitical realities.
For our Universities to be successful and healthy workplaces in the long term, academics must speak with a united voice, to engage politicians and the wider community in shaping a sustainable future for Australian HE and society more broadly. To this end we have established the Australian Association of University Professors (AAUP), which we seek to develop as a national network across all 39 Australian Universities.
General purpose of the AAUP: The idea of the AAUP was first conceived at the University of Sydney, and the AAUP was registered on 30 Jan 2019, as an Incorporated Association in NSW, to: serve as a reference for discussion and future joint activities of the Australian professoriates; enable professors to better fulfil their roles and responsibilities; assist in establishing local chapters; provide high quality information to government and civil society more broadly; share and discuss models of best (and worst) administrative practice across the sector; ensure the maintenance of quality higher education and research; and, promote academic and democratic values. The AAUP does not seek to supplant existing Learned or Professional Academies or Societies. It does seek to provide a broad-based, democratic forum for the academic leadership across all areas of endeavour and all universities, to assist in promotion of the best (and progressive elimination of the worst) of Australian HE practice in the 21st Century.
Specific goals of the AAUP:
- Establish chapters of AAUP at all 39 universities in Australia
- Provide our elected politicians with high quality information and advice, as a large independent national expert group in line with AAUP’s nationally agreed Pillars of a University, which form part of the AAUP Constitution
- By demonstrating our utility, build the clout we need to have a significant say over the direction and substance of future developments within our universities – in line with the Pillars
Next steps: If you would also like to start a local chapter of the AAUP, and we would like to strongly encourage you to do so, at least 5 like-minded professors are required. Once your group has formed, please get in touch for more information firstname.lastname@example.org (Australian Association of University Professors).