Release type: Media Release


Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers


The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Education

The Government today released the Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers.

This Review was undertaken by the Hon Robert French AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, following the Minister’s invitation on 14 November 2018.

The report concluded that:

  • Protection for academic freedom and freedom of speech could be strengthened by the adoption of a Model Code embedded in higher education providers’ institutional regulations or policies on a voluntary basis.

  • Minor amendments to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 could be made to align the language currently used around concepts of ‘free intellectual inquiry’ with the proposed Model Code’s identification of ‘free speech’ and ‘academic freedom’ to bring greater clarity and consistency.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan thanked Mr French for undertaking the Review in a thorough and consultative manner, and for his thoughtful analysis of the issues.

“This Review makes an important contribution to the higher education sector’s reflection on and management of issues of free speech and academic freedom and I have accepted Mr French’s recommendations,” Mr Tehan said.

“While recognising that universities are autonomous institutions, I am writing to all higher education providers to urge them to carefully consider Mr French’s recommendations and the adoption of the Model Code. As Mr French makes very clear in his report, the Model Code can be adopted without the suggested changes to the Higher Education Support Act and the Higher Education Standards.”

The Review’s terms of reference and the Review report are available at