Updating the site’s recent coverage of the Murdoch University whistleblower scandal: there has been an impressive response from Australian academics. Fifty-seven of them – all recipients of the Australian Research Council’s Laureate Fellowship – have signed a letter condemning Murdoch’s decision to sue associate professor Gerd Schröder-Turk and pursue the ABC journalists to whom he spoke about the university’s questionable literacy standards for foreign students. The Australian Institute of Physics and a coalition of 23 international academics have also published statements supporting Dr Schröder-Turk and demanding Murdoch drops legal action against him. Coinciding with this week’s national press campaign for free speech, this support and the coverage it receives will be highly damaging to Murdoch University. If administrators don’t cut their losses now and settle the dispute, their brand will be associated with a very ugly public brawl for a long time. Given the motivation for pursuing him was an alleged fall-off in foreign enrolments and revenue following the Four Corners expose that started it all, their legal militancy is baffling, bordering on irrational.
PS: I’d be more impressed with these white knight academics if they had supported Peter Ridd with the same esprit de corps as they exhibit for Schröder-Turk. I suspect student illiteracy is making all of their lives harder on multiple professional levels – whereas Dr Ridd was a troublemaker who got what he deserved.