Traditional conceptions of academic freedom emphasise the importance of universities being free from external regulation or interference, to enable them to produce and disseminate expert knowledge through teaching, research, and scholarship. However, recent Australian court decisions and scholarship highlight the importance of protecting academic staff from disciplinary action by a university as an employer. Universities themselves may threaten academic freedom by punishing scholars for public comments within their areas of expertise. As academic freedom exists for the public benefit, rather than the benefit of universities or individual academics, legislation is needed to prevent universities from censoring scholars regarding public comment on matters within their expertise.
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