Sydney University's proposed terms of engagement with the Ramsay Centre were more "donor hands off" than its standard agreements and would be released for debate before they were given to the Ramsay board, vice-chancellor Michael Spence has revealed.
Dr Spence wrote to the academics' union this week in response to their concerns about the transparency of negotiations with the centre about a Western civilisation course that union members argue would have a "European supremacist" world view.
A draft memorandum of understanding, which is likely to be put to senior arts faculty staff early next week and, if approved, to the academic board in early October, was drawn up by Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Stephen Garton.
The terms were "much more 'donor hands off' than any of our standard gift agreements, partly because we wanted to show how seriously we meant to protect the autonomy of the institution," Dr Spence wrote.
A dot-point version of the terms were shown to Ramsay early on, in the only meeting the two parties have had so far. The centre thought only one issue could be a problem for its board, which is chaired by former prime minister John Howard.
Professor Garton then drew up a more formal version.
It will be put to an arts faculty focus group and then to the faculty board before being released to the wider university. Only then would it be put to Ramsay again.
"[The centre] will determine whether to not to enter into detailed negotiations on these terms," Dr Spence said.
"The point of this has simply been to arrive at a draft for consultation (on the university side) and consideration by the board (on the Ramsay side) that doesn't give any silly hostages of fortune, or is infelicitously expressed in some way," Dr Spence wrote.
"The university-wide consultation will be real and important and there is no guarantee that the Ramsay board will accept any of it."
Academics opposing a Ramsay deal will meet on Thursday to discuss their strategy. "The ideological intention of the Western civilisation degree is so damaging that outright rejection is the only possible course of action for a uni committed to multiculturalism," academic Nick Riemer said.
If terms of engagement are agreed, the university will begin negotiating the fine detail of the course with the centre.
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Jordan Baker is Education Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald