Friday, 9 October 2009

If the university owns knowledge, who does that mean?

I am just sitting down to investigate the candidates for Senate at the University of Sydney, relishing in a new way my right to vote in it. I had always thought of the Senate as being a bit like an expanded SRC, but actually it is representative of the university as a membership-based organisation.

In discussing my chapter on IP and the UWA v Gray case with my associate supervisor recently, he asked a rhetorical (largely) question about who the owner is, when it is the university. We think of it as being like a company owning stuff, but the traditions of the university suggest that the owners of university property might even be the Graduates.

Looking at the University of Sydney Act recently (with a brother who seems oddly familiar with university acts) the University is The Senate, The Convocation (alumni), Professors and Full time academics, students and graduates. In fact, the only people the university is not is general staff, which is why there is good reason for a general staff specific union (which I say despite belonging to its rival).

Unlikely though it is that UWA was thinking of sharing the $100M they wanted a share of with their graduates, the fact of the university being defined by its members should - but probably won't - reduce some of the power held by the chief accountants of each the universities, who have been regularly described to me as the most powerful people on each campus.

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