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Murdoch University drops legal proceedings against staff whistleblower

The moves follows months of criticism of the University

Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk. Source: ABC News/Hugh Sando.

Murdoch University has withdrawn its legal proceedings against an academic who raised concerns over the poor treatment of international students as part of a settlement.

Murdoch University had attempted to remove Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk from his position as an elected staff representative after he criticised the University for admitting under-qualified  international students and “setting them up for failure” on Four Corners in 2019. 

Murdoch counter-sued Schröder-Turk for breaching his fiduciary duties, alleging that the disclosure of information to the media had caused significant damage to the University’s reputation.

Murdoch dropped that claim in January after 57 senior academics penned an open letter to the Vice Chancellor condemning the move as “intimidatory.”

“I am glad the court proceeding has now finished,” Schröder-Turk states. 

“I look forward to continuing to contribute to the governance of Murdoch University through my membership of its Senate, and to contributing to the broader public discussion around governance and international student recruitment practices of public universities.”

The ABC reports that the University has committed to an independent governance review as part of the settlement.

The settlement comes after a months long #IStandWithGerd campaign by the NTEU.

The NTEU’s campaign.

“This is a momentous day for academic freedom”, Dr Alison Barnes, NTEU National President, has said. 

“All academics, including those elected onto our university senates, have the right to speak publicly about matters that concern Australian universities, which may include criticism of their own institution.” 

“This is fundamental to ensuring that academics are free from the threat of penalty or persecution in the pursuit of truth.”

Schröder-Turk praised the NTEU’s support for his case.

“My membership of the NTEU has enabled me to defend my right to speak and to defend my reputation. The NTEU also enabled hundreds of its members to send me caring messages of sympathy and strong expressions of support, all of which were essential for helping me and my family through a very difficult year.”

Murdoch University has been contacted for comment. This article will be updated if it is provided.