Wollongong Uni Council overrules Academic Senate to approve Ramsay degree

The degree will commence next year

A photo of the University of Wollongong sign outside its main entrance

KEY POINTS:

  • The University Council has ignored the Academic Senate to approve a Ramsay sponsored degree in Western Civilisation
  • The move comes two months after the NTEU lodged a claim in the Supreme Court contesting the legality of expediting the degree’s approval
  • The degree is set to commence next year

The University of Wollongong (UoW) Council has stepped in to approve a degree in Western Civilisation sponsored by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, ignoring the pleas of staff and its own Academic Senate.

Vice Chancellor Paul Wellings was met with the prospect of a legal challenge by the University’s staff union after expediting approval of the degree in April, however the Council’s approval of the degree was executed within its delegated legislative powers. The University of Wollongong Act 1989 and its relevant by-laws enable the Council to “provide such courses… as it thinks fit.”

UoW Chancellor Jillian Broadbent said the Council had “full respect for the University’s academic processes, particularly the role of the Academic Senate” according to a statement.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Alison Barnes criticised the development.

“This decision is another example of the University not following its normal procedures in approving new courses. It’s the reason that NTEU initiated court action against the University in the first place,” Barnes said.

Similar in composition to USyd’s Senate, the UoW Council comprises 17 members and includes members of the private sector drawn from investment banking, accounting, and fossil fuel industries.

The degree is set to commence next year and will likely feature a reading list comprised primarily of revered European texts. The Ramsay Centre concedes on its own website that most of these texts are already taught at major Australian universities, but argues for the need to see them brought under one degree structure.

The development comes weeks after University of Queensland organisers amassed 500 physical votes against the introduction of a Ramsay sponsored degree in a student general meeting.

The future of the Ramsay Centre at USyd has remained unresolved for months, with few public developments.