Dear Colleagues,

At its meeting on Friday, 21 June 2019, the University of Wollongong Council gave its seal of approval to the Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation and associated double degree programs due to commence in 2020.

The Council independently resolved to use its legislative authority as our governing body to approve the degree to remove any uncertainty about its commencement at UOW in 2020.

In coming to its view, Council was satisfied with the academic quality of the degree and the rigour of the academic assessment process and its compliance with the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Under the University of Wollongong Act 1989 (NSW) and the University of Wollongong By-Law 2005 (NSW) the University Council has broad-ranging powers to ‘act in all matters concerning the University’, and to ‘provide such courses, and confer such degrees… as it thinks fit.’

In using its legislative powers to approve the degree and associated double degrees, the Council was mindful of the tight timeframes involved in preparing to begin teaching the degree in 2020 and the potential impact of any uncertainty regarding the course’s approval status on student applications.

As you would be aware, in April this year the National Tertiary Education Union initiated legal action in the NSW Supreme Court challenging, on procedural grounds, my approval of the Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation in January.

The University Council continues to support the validity of my use of delegated authority, but considered it to be in the best interests of the University to independently and additionally approve these courses. In doing so, Council emphasised its respect for the University’s academic process, particularly the role of the Senate.

The Chancellor has also indicated the University’s willingness to continue with its legal defence of my decision if required. The University is today advising the NTEU of these changed circumstances and has invited the NTEU to withdraw its challenge of my decision to approve the degree.

I join with the Chancellor in appealing to the whole University community to unite in a shared commitment to our University’s legislative objectives of encouraging ‘the dissemination, advancement, development and application of knowledge informed by free inquiry’ and ‘the provision of courses of study … across a range of fields’.

If you have not already done so, please take the time to read the course curriculum information for yourself and consider the multiple perspectives and traditions from which students will be challenged to consider western civilisation in this academically challenging degree.

For more information about this degree please visit the School of Liberal Arts website at: https://www.uow.edu.au/law-humanities-the-arts/schools-entities/liberal-arts/

Yours sincerely,

Professor Paul Wellings CBE
Vice-Chancellor