What will the partnership with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation involve?
Our partnership with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation will enable:
- Establishment of a new Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation degree
- Creation of a School of Liberal Arts in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts (now the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities)
- Recruitment of ten world class academics, and support staff, specifically to deliver this program
- Refurbishment of dedicated facilities for the new School of Liberal Arts
- 30 annual scholarships
- International study opportunities for participating students
- A summer school and visiting speakers program.
The small group teaching setting planned for this degree will support the personalised approach to teaching and learning for which UOW is renowned and has received international acclaim.
When did UOW begin negotiations with the Ramsay Centre?
In response to a call from the Ramsay Centre UOW, along with a significant number of universities, submitted an Expression of Interest in early November 2017 to be a partner university. In early September 2018, UOW was invited to make an initial presentation to the Ramsay Centre Board. It was not until late October 2018 that negotiations began with a view to a partnership.
A Memorandum of Understanding between UOW and the Ramsay Centre was concluded and signed on Friday 14 December 2018 and announced on the first business day afterwards, Monday 17 December 2018.
Why were current staff not consulted about this agreement?
UOW joined a number of other universities in responding to the Ramsay Centre’s call for Expressions of Interest over a year ago. Confidentiality was a condition of responding to that EOI and UOW has respected that condition throughout discussions.
When considering whether and how to respond to the call for expressions of interest for a Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation in mid-2017, senior academics from the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts (now the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) were advised and consulted. Senior Professor Daniel Hutto was chosen to lead the bid and, while honouring confidentiality requirements, he consulted with relevant and suitably qualified academics and stakeholders. This approach is consistent with principles commonly applied when preparing submissions for research grants or engaging prospective benefactors.
In our approach to engaging with the Ramsay Centre, we learned from the experience of other institutions. UOW established a small team to undertake constructive discussions, which addressed all matters related to academic freedom, governance and autonomy from the outset.
Our confidential approach allowed our discussions with the Ramsay Centre to be frank and productive. This was important to establishing firm foundations for a successful partnership.
Also, UOW’s approach of establishing a dedicated school with academics and support staff recruited specifically to deliver this program means:
- There will be no impact on the employment arrangements of existing staff in other schools or faculties;
- There will be no impact on academic freedom for existing staff because no one will be asked to teach this new program against their objections;
- It will not negatively impact on the delivery of other programs or courses; and
- It will only positively contribute to enrolments as students from this program will undertake electives, a major or a double degree from elsewhere within UOW.
UOW enters into many MOUs following confidential discussions. It is normal for confidentiality to be respected when establishing such agreements.
Is accepting philanthropic gifts from external donors normal practice in the Australian higher education sector?
Yes. The Australian higher education sector is increasingly accepting significant gifts from philanthropic donors.
Figures from Universities Australia, reported in Times Higher Education in 2016
, indicated that annual donations to Australian universities increased by 83 per cent, from A$161 million in 2005 to A$295 million in 2013.
UOW’s Annual Report lists the many individuals, corporations, trusts and foundations that have donated funds to support the work of the University.
UOW raised over $5.1 million dollars in the calendar year 2018.
How is UOW honouring and protecting its academic freedom and autonomy?
There are many features of this degree’s development and delivery, and of the terms of the partnership, which protect academic freedom and autonomy at UOW.
What influence will the Ramsay Centre have on curriculum content, staff hires, and/or student recruitment?
In its original call for expressions of interest, the Ramsay Centre stipulated that the course they were seeking to fund must primarily, though not exclusively, focus on great works of Western thought and art, ranging from the classical period to the present, and be taught in small classroom settings. Our curriculum conforms to these requirements.
We have also responded to feedback from Ramsay Centre academics on the need to limit the new course to 16 subjects, so as to enable students to undertake electives, a major or a double degree from other UOW programs. Other than these broad course design and content requirements, the Ramsay Centre has not stipulated how UOW’s curriculum was to be constructed.
Academic appointment panels will be chaired by either the Vice-Chancellor or the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts (now the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), depending on the position being filled. The Ramsay Centre will have two academic representatives on those panels alongside a far larger number of UOW academic panel members. It is intended that panel decisions will be made by consensus. These arrangements are not unusual for UOW academic appointment panels.
Marketing and student recruitment for the degree will be administered by UOW.
A Ramsay Scholarship panel with academic members appointed by the Ramsay Centre and UOW will award the scholarships. This panel will be chaired by the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts (now the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) and the scholarships will be administered by UOW.
Will the academics recruited to teach on the degree work for the Ramsay Centre?
No. Academics in the School of Liberal Arts will be selected by UOW-led selection panels and employed by UOW under UOW’s normal academic employment agreement, with its clear academic freedom protections.
Will the Ramsay Centre be monitoring classes?
The Ramsay Centre will not be monitoring classes at UOW.
Ramsay Centre academic staff will be invited to visit UOW to observe in person the facilities and activities and to attend social functions. This may include observing some classes but this will not be for the purpose of assessing individual academics, or teaching quality or any formal evaluation.
We will draw on UOW’s normal quality assurance processes to generate data for annual reports to the Ramsay Centre on the Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation.
Will UOW be publishing the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ramsay Centre?
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was not released previously due to confidentiality considerations, so as to avoid impacting on other negotiations. The parties are now satisfied this risk has abated, allowing for its publication.
The Memorandum was originally signed on Friday 14 December 2018 and publicly announced on Monday 17 December. It was then amended to more clearly describe the purpose and scope of visitation by Ramsay Centre representatives and re-signed on 21 January 2019.
Did the Ramsay Centre only choose UOW because ANU withdrew late in its negotiations?
No. The Ramsay Centre has made it very clear in its public statements that our excellence in teaching was a key factor in our selection.
It is also important to note that it has been publicly reported that negotiations with Sydney University, the University of Queensland and other universities are still ongoing.