Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2009

Protect Rights on Overseas Campuses

Caut and the American Asso­ciation of University Profes­sors issued a joint statement last month saying they expect North Ameri­can universities and colleges to uphold key rights for faculty and staff in overseas operations.

Warning that education is not a commodity to be governed by the rules of a deregulated global eco­nomy and competitive trade, the statement calls on universities and colleges operating internationally to take steps to ensure academic freedom and shared governance for faculty at an overseas site, and to adopt codes of conduct governing the workplace conditions and rights of nonacademic employees, “especially if these workers are employed directly by a local subcontractor.”

Participating in the movement for international education can rest “on laudable educational grounds,” the statement said. “But those grounds will be jeopardized if hard-earned standards and protections are weakened rather than exported.”

The statement says university and college administrations should pro­vide their faculty and staff associations and the institution’s senior academic body with information about any international initiative being contemplated. And, if the initiative proceeds, provide detailed updates on all aspects of the project, with special emphasis on provisions to ensure academic freedom and tenure and collegial governance, including approval and regular assessment of programs and curriculum, appointment and evaluation of academic staff, workload, appropriate compensation and working conditions, anti-harassment and nondiscrimination provisions, intellectual property, occupational health and safety, equity, and rights to appeal procedures characterized by substantive and procedural fairness.

“We feel these obligations are essential,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “In fact, so essential we would censure a university that violated these conditions whether in North America or abroad.”

Turk said CAUT member associations and AAUP local chapters are being asked to play a key role in assuring their institutions meet these obligations, and both organizations have pledged to assist their members and the post-secondary education community in this work.