Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015 [Post 8 of a Series]


Australia—Federal Funding for the Copenhagen Consensus Centre at Flinders University

 In October, Simon Birmingham, the education minister in the new government of Malcolm Turnbull, announced that it would uphold the decision by Christopher Pyne, the education minister under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, to withdraw “funding offered to Bjørn Lomborg for the creation of the Australia Consensus centre in any university” (Medhora). The funding would have amounted to $4 million.

Not surprisingly, a spokesperson for Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre expressed regret at the decision: “’It is disappointing that a significant global research effort attracting top economists to look at development priorities will no longer be associated with Australia. Those who used the announcement of Australia Consensus as a political football had no interest in our record of ten years’ work on development issues, or our work with hundreds of world-class economists and Nobel laureates. Australia could have played a leadership role in setting global development priorities. It is a pity for Australian researchers and civil society that won’t be the case” (Medhora).

Speaking for Flinders University, which hoped to house the center, Vice Chancellor Colin Stirling also found the decision “’regrettable’” decision: “’A group of senior Flinders academics had engaged in positive discussions about a possible Flinders-centric proposal that would have been significantly different from the arrangement that had previously been accepted, and later withdrawn, by the University of Western Australia.’ . . . Stirling said universities should be places for contesting controversial issues without fear or favour, and he was ‘proud of the principled stand taken by colleagues here at Flinders on the issue of academic freedom’” (Medhora). But opponents of the center celebrated the decision. For example, Caleb Pattinson, the education officer at the Flinders University Student Association, declared that the decision was “’a huge win for students’”: “’We can now rest easy knowing our university’s academic integrity will not be jeopardised by questionable funding from the federal government’” (Medhora).


Medhora, Shalailah, And Daniel Hurst. “Government Withdraws Funding Offer for Bjørn Lomborg Centre; Education Minister Simon Birmingham Tells Senate Estimates the Decision Was Taken by His Predecessor Christopher Pyne.” Guardian 21 Oct. 2015.


Australia—Monash University Branch Campus in China

In an article for The Australian, Andrew Trounson reports on Berkeley’s announcement of its establishment of a new “global campus” located near its main campus and intended as an alternative to overseas branch campuses at which academic freedom was difficult to protect. At the very end of the article, Trounson includes the following comment on Australian branch campuses in China: “In 2012 Monash became the first Australian university to secure a licence to operate a campus in China. In partnership with China’s Southeast University it has set up a joint school for graduate education and a joint research institute. At the time, then Monash head Ed Byrne said the university had retained “total academic control” over course offerings and content. However, academic offerings to date are focused generally on non-political subjects such as information technology, business, translation studies and industrial design” (Trounson).


Trounson, Andrew. “Berkeley Bucks the Branch Trend.” The Australian 7 Oct. 2015: 32.


Bjorn Lomborg

Bjorn Lomborg, Copenhagen Consensus Centre

Colin Stirling

Colin Stirling, Flinders University

Monash U Campus China

Monash University Branch Campus in China


Previous Posts in the Series:

Post 1. Canada—University of British Columbia [Part 1]:

Post 2. Canada—University of British Columbia [Part 2]:

Post 3. Canada—University of New Brunswick:

Post 4. Canada—Capilano University:

Post 5. Canada—Overview:

Post 6. Canada—Additional Items:

Post 7. Australia– Nikolic, Powell, and Price:


4 thoughts on “Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015 [Post 8 of a Series]

  1. Pingback: Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015 [Post 9 of a Series] | ACADEME BLOG

  2. Pingback: Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015: United Kingdom, Part 1 [Post 10 of a Series] | ACADEME BLOG

  3. Pingback: Global Survey of Academic Freedom Issues in 2015: United Kingdom, Part 2 [Post 11 of a Series] | ACADEME BLOG

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