As a loud mouthed gobby shite that causes endless pain and suffering to my colleagues by getting pedantic over rules and regulations and inefficiency, issues relating to academic freedom are of particular concern.
Being a gobby shite, you might expect that I wave the Academic Freedom flag often as a defense for gobbing off.
I never have.
I accept that I might get reprimanded, and I accept that sometimes I cross the line, and when I do so I apologise for it and usually agree with them.
My reason for not using the AF defense is that, as a pedant, I have a more restricted interpretation of the Education Act (1988) than others do.
The act states that: academics have “freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial and unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs”.
It might just be the way that I am interpreting it, but this looks like it is only relevant to research.
My reading of the law is that this is not applicable to having a mouth off about your employer, including criticism publicly about rules and regs, finances, composition of committees, etc. Hence why this blog is anonymous!
Universities may receive public money but they are private organisations registered as charities. An employee criticising any private organisation or charity would soon be given the boot and they are not protected by AF although in more extreme/serious cases involving the public would be protected under the whistle blower law.
We don’t need to hide behind AF if a university has right of reply, consultation and representation at all levels of committee, as well as a reliable and ethical chain of command.