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Pressure builds on Murdoch over academic freedom

Students gathered outside Murdoch University’s Bush Court today to show solidarity for Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk following his academic dismissal for whistleblowing.

Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk and his children were at the protest. Photo: Amy Johnston.

Associate Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk is also facing legal action from the university after speaking to ABC’s Four Corners earlier this year in a program called ‘Cash Cows.’

More than 100 students, staff and alumni joined the protest. Video: Amy Johnston.

Event organiser and Murdoch student Maricela Polanco is outraged for Professor Schroeder-Turk.

“I think Professor Gerd’s criticisms are valuable, and the university is completely dismissing itself,” she said.

“What they are trying to do is silence him though a really expensive court case, basically a silence of dissent and cruelty and that is unacceptable.”

Event organiser Natalie Pepping (left) and Maricela Polanco (right). Photo: Png Guan Shen.

During the ABC’s investigation Dr Schroder-Turk raised concerns for the welfare of international students who were allegedly being exploited for financial revenue even though they did not meet the university’s English standards.

“Admitting students who don’t have the right qualifications, or prerequisites, or correct language capabilities is setting them up for failure,” Professor Schröder-Turk told Four Corners.

Students spent the protest chanting in support. Image: Png Guan Shen.

Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk, who couldn’t comment for legal reasons, joined the event with his children.

Physicist Stuart Midgley, who is a long time friend of Professor Schroeder-Turk, thinks it is the university’s responsibility to help international students if their English is below standard.

“These students are a resource to our country and a resource to our universities and we should help them to succeed,” he said.

Physicist Stuart Midgley is disappointed with the university. Video: Amy Johnston.
Protestor feel strongly about this issue. Photo: Png Guan Shen.

Murdoch University is seeking legal compensation from Dr Schroder-Turk claiming his comments have led to a loss in revenue and international students.

Protest organiser Natalie Pepping said Murdoch goes against the values she expects from the university.

“We are in support of Professor Gerd speaking out for the welfare of students,” she said.

Lachlan Lloyd, a former student of Professor Schroeder-Turk, says the university should not pressure staff to stay silent about important issues.

“That man goes out of his way to help the students and the university, so being here is the least we can do for him,” he said.

See photos from the protest below.