The Federation Press

Higher Education and the Law


This book is the first in Australia dedicated to the legal environment of our universities. The law both drives and governs the evolution of Australia’s strong and vibrant system of higher education. Here, experts explore a wide range of areas of topical and salient interest, providing a comprehensive resource for those both within and outside the sector, including managers, governors, academics, legal practitioners and all who have an interest in the impact of the law on its operations.

While their primary function today remains the provision of higher education and research, Australia’s universities are now large commercial global corporations. Their operations involve the management of a diverse range of relationships, both internal and external, and the law plays a central role in these. Higher Education and the Law first considers the legal framework of the higher education sector and the relationships universities have externally, particularly with government – their governance, their funding and accountability, and their maintenance of high standards and quality. It then traverses many of the areas where the law has a significant impact on the relationships universities have with their students and their staff.

In a clear and readable style, the book covers matters from anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, transparency and due process in decision-making, employment and student matters, to property rights such as copyright and ownership of intellectual property. It focuses on those issues of the most practical relevance to today’s higher education environment.


This is another publication by The Federation Press, being the only legal publisher in Australia which regularly publishes legal works of the highest calibre. This work tackles the very difficult and often murky area of the legal environment of Australian Universities. Largely due to the reprehensible reluctance of Courts to adjudicate upon anything within University walls, for many years the operations, accountability and governance of most Australian universities has been poor at best, but, more regularly, dysfunctional. Of particular concern has been the inability of Australian Universities to properly administer their own internal processes with even a modicum of regularity; this is especially so in areas such as promotions and appointments and the awarding of degrees, prizes and medals. Moreover, as the authors of this work identify, Universities are no longer internally-focused, learning and teaching institutions. They are now large commercial global organisations with international contracts and agreements, many of which relate to substantial profit making ventures. This most interesting work first considers the current legal framework of higher educational facilities and the external relationship which they have with government and then considers issues of governance, funding and accountability and the processes in place (even if rarely complied with) for ensuring the maintenance of standards and quality. The remainder of the book deals with those areas of the law which impact upon the relationship between higher education institutions and their students.
The legal issues surrounding the operation of higher education institutions are developing and becoming ever more prominent. This well written and readable work provides a very clear basis on which to analyse almost any legal issue which might arise in this context. - Queensland Law Reporter – 29 May 2015 – [2015] 20 QLR

Table of Contents

Foreword by Pamela Madafiglio and John Birrell
About the Contributors
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

Introduction to Higher Education and the Law
           Sally Varnham, Patty Kamvounias and Joan Squelch

1.  The Legal Framework of Higher Education
           Joan Squelch
2.  University Governance: Responsibility and Accountability
           Sally Varnham
3.  The Student Voice in University Decision-making
           Jade Tyrrell and Sally Varnham
4.  Indigenous Knowledges: A Strategy for First Nations Peoples Engagement in Higher Education
           Irene Watson and Marcelle Burns
5.  The Regulation of International Higher Education
           Gaby Ramia
6.  ‘The Next Two Decades are Going to Be Transparency’: Regulatory Challenges for Universities
           Helen Fleming

7.  The Contract Between the University and the Student
           Francine Rochford
8.  Students and the Australian Consumer Law
           Patty Kamvounias
9.  Student Conduct and University Discipline
           Bruce Lindsay
10. Resolution of Student Grievances within Universities
           Anita Stuhmcke, Bronwyn Olliffe and Maxine Evers
11. Public Sector Ombudsmen and Higher Education
           Patty Kamvounias
12. Diversity, Affirmative Action and Higher Education
           Joy Cumming and Ralph Mawdsley
13. Disability Standards for Education
           Elizabeth Dickson
14. Employment Law
           Jacquie Seemann and Katie Kossian
15. The Tort of Negligence and Higher Education
           Robert Horton, Kerry Smith and Abigail Tisbury
16. Workplace Health and Safety
           Joan Squelch
17. Academic Freedom and University Autonomy
           Nigel Stobbs
18. Copyright Law and Higher Education
           Michael Fraser
19. Intellectual Property Rights and Commercialisation of Research in Higher Education
           Mary Wyburn
20. Alternative Dispute Resolution in Higher Education
           Myles Stilwell


Of interest...