UQ’s discussions with The Ramsay Centre

UQ submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to explore a possible partnership with The Ramsay Centre on Friday 12 October 2018.

In the submission, the University was clear that any potential partnership would need to align with our longstanding principles of institutional autonomy and intellectual freedom and would be governed by our standard policies and procedures. These are critical matters for the University.

While The Ramsay Centre is considering our submission, which we anticipate will take some time, we are still bound by the confidentiality agreement covering the EOI phase.

Should our discussions move to the Memorandum of Understanding stage we will engage with staff and students, and the document will be public.

FAQs have been updated following the submission of the EOI.

What is The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation?

  • The Ramsay Centre website is available at ramsaycentre.org.
  • The Centre was established in March 2017, following an endowment from Mr Paul Ramsay, Australian business leader and philanthropist.
  • The Centre endeavours to establish partnerships with two or three Australian universities, with a focus on scholarships and degrees that cover humanities disciplines that are intrinsic to the study of western civilisation. Any partnership would provide significant funding for students and staff in these areas.

What is the Expression of Interest process?

  • In response to an invitation from The Ramsay Centre, The University of Queensland submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to explore a possible partnership with the Centre on Friday 12 October 2018.
  • UQ’s decision to participate in the EOI process provides an opportunity for both parties to explore compatibility and areas of mutual interest. It does not signify a commitment beyond this for either the University or The Ramsay Centre.
  • Any partnership would be contingent on agreement with UQ’s longstanding principles of institutional autonomy, intellectual freedom and independence.
  • Should The Ramsay Centre’s Board receive an EOI from UQ positively, work would then begin on a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the wider university community, including staff and students, would be consulted.
  • Any MOU produced would be a public document that showed how a proposed partnership aligned with the University’s mission and values.
  • The Vice-Chancellor, the Chancellor and UQ’s Senate would be involved in the approval process.
  • If UQ were to partner with The Ramsay Centre, the program start date could be either 2020 or 2021.

Why is UQ considering partnering with The Ramsay Centre?

  • UQ has a large and successful Bachelor of Arts program which includes foundational humanities disciplines such as history, politics, classics, literature, languages, religious studies and philosophy. It also has a similar program in Advanced Humanities. UQ is the only university in Queensland to offer courses in the history, culture, language and literature of Ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Many of these existing disciplines overlap with The Ramsay Centre’s areas of interest, and part of the EOI process would be exploring whether a future partnership would be compatible with, and able to further strengthen, our already highly regarded humanities curricula, which encourages students to think historically and critically.
  • A partnership would provide scholarships for domestic students, and funding for more academic staff, expanding UQ’s capacity in learning and teaching in core humanities disciplines.
  • Philanthropy is one of the main sources of funding for the humanities.

What consultation will occur?

  • A confidentiality agreement prevents wide consultation during the current EOI phase. Input at this preliminary stage is made by a cohort of senior Humanities and Social Sciences staff and key executives.
  • Should our discussions move to the Memorandum of Understanding stage we will engage with staff and students, and the document will be public.

What would the curriculum look like?

  • The curriculum would be created and proposed by UQ in consultation with academic staff at The Ramsay Centre. Any new courses, major sequences or degrees, would go through UQ’s standard approval processes, including consultation with the Academic Board.
  • The Ramsay Centre has an indicative curriculum on their website here.
  • It is likely that the curriculum would include many foundational humanities disciplines already taught at UQ, such as history, politics, classics, literature, languages, religious studies, law, and philosophy.
  • If created at UQ, any offering in western civilisation would be taught through multiple and diverse disciplinary perspectives, providing opportunities to compare western civilisation with other civilisations.
  • The program would not privilege one civilisation over another, but analyse the past through engaging with several disciplines, methods, and sources. The primary purpose will be to inform open, mature, and – as happens across our humanities and social sciences platform – often critical debate about the past and the future: it will not impose an ideological agenda.

Who would teach the program?

  • If a partnership progressed, all staffing appointments would be guided by UQ’s policies and procedures. UQ would maintain control over staff appointments as well as curriculum and teaching.
  • At this preliminary stage, the University is not opposed to the inclusion of a Ramsay Centre staff member on appointment panels: criteria for panel membership would be in accordance with UQ’s standard recruitment processes. Additionally, while UQ is responsible for the academic content and delivery, relevant information would be shared with The Ramsay Centre.
  • If a partnership were to go ahead, The Ramsay Centre funding would, in addition to scholarships, be used to hire academic staff who contribute to both teaching and research.
  • The courses would be delivered using a combination of lectures and small seminar groups, allowing for intensive interaction between teachers and students.

How would the scholarships work?

  • Students would be able to use these scholarships to study for a dual degree.
  • Any scholarship would be based on academic merit and personal attributes. The Ramsay Centre would be represented on a UQ-chaired scholarship selection committee, but the selection process would be in line with UQ’s policies and procedures.
  • Undergraduate scholarships would be available for up to five years.

How will UQ retain intellectual freedom?

  • UQ’s Enterprise Agreement and its human resources policies uphold the intellectual freedom of staff.
  • UQ’s principles of institutional autonomy, intellectual freedom and independence are long-standing commitments that will not be compromised by any partnership.
  • Any partnership would follow UQ’s policies and procedures in relation to program development, staffing decisions, and course delivery and management.