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Professor Sally Varnham

Biography

Dr Sally Varnham is a Professor of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney.  She is a leading expert in both Australia and New Zealand in law and policy relating to all sectors of education.  Her work is recognised internationally by her invitations to speak at conferences, roundtables and symposia in the UK, Europe and the US.  She has researched and written widely on issues in compulsory education relating to educational choice, human rights education, the right to and rights in education, restorative practice and the right to participation and practising citizenship in education.  She has a strong interest in the university/student relationship and she was a Chief Investigator on an ALTC funded project on student grievances.  This work led to a good practice guide used by Australian universities in reviewing their policies and procedures in this area. She is the representative providing input from Australia on the global steering group of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education (ENOHE), the US Education Law Association and a past President and Director of the Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association. From 2011 to 2014 she was Chair of the University Academic Board and this has led to her current research leading an OLT funded project on student engagement in decision making and governance.  She is drawing on her wide international network for direction in the Australian context. 

Together with Professor Jim Jackson, Sally is the author of "Law for Educators: School and University Law in Australia" (LexisNexis, 2007). She was invited Guest Editor for the Europa World of Learning (Routledge, 2014) and invited author of chapters in several US and South African scholarly books in the field of rights in education.  She is a co-editor of Higher Education and the Law (Federation Press, 2015 forthcoming), the first book dedicated to this area in Australia.
Professor Varnham has a commitment to research which is strongly practical, timely and relevant.  She draws on comparative international experience for the Australia context.  Her research is aimed a system of education which is both socially just and inclusive, of a high standard, and is strongly focussed on the development of citizens and leaders for a democratic society.  

Download the ALTC Final Report.

Download the Good practice guide for handling complaints and appeals in Australian universities.

Professional

Sally was Chair of the University Academic Board from 2011 to 2104 and is currently an elected staff representative on the University Council. Previously she was Proctor on the Wellington Campus of Massey University in New Zealand, and an Assistant Student Ombud at UTS.
Image of Sally Varnham
Professor, Faculty of Law
Core Member, LRC - Law
Associate Member, CCS - Cosmopolitan Civil Societies
Law, Master of Laws, Doctor of Phillosophy
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 3455

Research Interests

  • "Student Grievance and Discipline Matters" – ALTC research project 2007 - 2009
  • “Human Rights in Education” – A member of the Centre for Cosmopolitan Civil Societies UTS research team led by Associate Professor Nina Burridge funded by the Office of the Attorney-General 2012-2013
  • “Student engagement in university decision-making and university governance – towards a more systemically inclusive student voice” – Leading an OLT Strategic Priority Commissioned Project 2014 – 2016 Download project brief
  • “Participative and Restorative Practices in Schools: The Engagement of Children and Young People and the Development of Citizenship, Through Democratic Education”. ECRG Project 2010-2012 Download research poster
Can supervise: Yes

Available for undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and higher degree research supervision in:

  • Children and the Law (Education and the Law)
  • Contract Law
  • Education and the Law
  • Law of Torts
  • Law and Education

Books

Varnham, S. 2014, LexisNexis Concise Legal Dictionary, 5th, LexisNexis, Australia.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Revision of 49 terms relating to Law and Education - approximately 3 pages worth (throughout the dictionary)
Hubbard, J., Thomas, C. & Varnham, S. 2013, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Students, 5, Pearson, New Zealand.
Varnham, S., Hubbard, J. & Thomas, C. 2012, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Students, 5th, Pearson, Auckland, New Zealand.
The text used for most business law courses at New Zealand universities and polytechnics. Accompanied by a Study Guide also written by the authors
Drake, N., lay, J., Varnham, S. & Thomas, C. 2011, Conveyancing Law Handbook, 4th, CCh New Zealand Limited, New Zealand.
Jackson, J., Fleming, H., Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2009, Good Practice Guide for Handling Complaints and Appeals in Australian Universities, first, Southern Cross University, Australia.
Publication following research project Student Grievances and Discipline Matters. Separate publication to Report
Jackson, J. & Varnham, S. 2007, Law for Educators: School and University Law in Australia, 1, Lexis Nexis, Australia.
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Lay, J., Drake, N., Varnham, S. & Thomas, C. 2007, Conveyancing Law handbook, 3rd Edition, CCH NZ Limited, New Zealand.
Varnham, S. 2006, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Studies: Study Guide, 2nd, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Zealand.
Varnham, S. & Hubbard, T. 2005, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business, 3rd, Addison Wesley Longman, New Zealand.
Hubbard, T. & Varnham, S. 2003, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Students:Study Guide 2003, Pearson Prentice Hall, Auckalnd.
Hubbard, J., Thomas, C. & Varnham, S. 2003, Principles of Law for New Zealand Business Students: Study Guide, 1st, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Zealand.

Chapters

Varnham, S. 2017, 'Education Law in Aotearoa New Zealand' in Russo, C.J. (ed), Handbook of Education Law: Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Maryland, US.
Examination of the increasing recognition of the impact of law on education in Aotearoa New Zealand and analysis of current exercise of the right to education as fundamental to the welfare of New Zealand and its society.
Varnham, S. 2017, 'Education Law in Aotearoa New Zealand' in Comparative Legal Issues in Elementary and Secondary Education, Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland, US.
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Analysis of the increasing impact of law on the organisation and delivery of compulsory education in New Zealand, and comparative discussion of the exercise of the right to and rights in education
Varnham, S. 2015, 'Student Misconduct and School Responses in Aotearoa New Zealand: Safety and Sensibility' in Russo, C., Oosthuizen, I. & Wolhuter, C. (eds), Global Interest in Student Behaviour: An Examination of International Best Practices, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, MD, United States, pp. 29-50.
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A chapter devoted to practices in New Zealand, in the First edition of a global series on student misconduct. Together with chapters from the UK, US, Singapore, South Africa and others
Varnham, S. 2015, 'University Governance: Responsibility and Accountability' in Varnham, S., Kamvounias, P. & Squelch, J. (eds), Higher Education and the Law, The Federation Press, pp. 16-29.
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Tyrrell, J. & Varnham, S. 2015, 'The Student Voice in University Decision-making' in Varnham, S., Kamvounias, P. & Squelch, J. (eds), Higher Education and the Law, The Federation Press, Sydeny, pp. 30-40.
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Varnham, S. & Jackson, J. 2014, 'Universities as the 'Critics and Conscience of Society': The Challenges and Threats to Academic Freedom and University Autonomy in Today's Higher Education Sector' in Anthony Gladman (ed), Europa World of Learning - Edited essay collection, Routledge, United Kingdom, pp. 6-10.
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Chapter written as Guest Editor (with Prof Jim Jackson) for the essay collection commissioned for the 2015 Edition (6 essays)
Varnham, S. 2013, 'New Zealand' in Russo, P.C. (ed), The handbook of comparative higher education law, Rowman and Littlefield publishers, US, pp. 227-252.
Varnham, S. 2013, 'New Zealand' in Handbook of Comparative Higher Education Law, Rowman &Littlefield Education, Maryland US, pp. 229-254.
INTRODUCTION This chapter outlines the system of tertiary education in New Zealand within its constitutional ... and legal basis for education because of the importance accorded to language in nation building in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Jackson, J. & Varnham, S. 2011, 'Australia' in Russo, C. (ed), The Legal Rights of Students with Disabilities:International Perspectives, Rowman & Littlefields Publishers, Inc, UK, pp. 21-44.
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Varnham, S. & yap, W. 2011, 'The Student Experience: The Holistic Law Student' in Kift, S., Sanson, M., Cowley, J. & Watson, P. (eds), Excellence and Innovation in Legal Education, Lexis Nexis, Sydney, pp. 363-386.
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In this book teaching professionalism is characterised by the scholarly underpinning of each contribution; and every contribution provides a rich resource for enhancing teaching practice. The critical concerns for legal education have been identified and discussed: curriculum design that includes graduate attributes; embedding specific attributes across the curriculum; empowering students to learn; academic teamwork to manage large student cohorts; first year and final year transition strategies; tracking students' personal development through the use of ePortfolio; assessment strategies; improving student well-being and promoting resilience; teaching practice to achieve deep learning; flexibility in delivery; the use of Web 2.0 technology; and understanding the 21st century student.
Varnham, S. & Jackson, J. 2007, 'Education and Research' in Halsburys Laws of Australia, Lexis Nexis, Sydney Australia.
Frost, A. & Varnham, S. 2002, 'Julia Robb Bon Appetit Clothing' in Cameron, A. & Massey, C. (eds), Entrepreneurs at Work, Pearson Education, New Zealand.

Conferences

Varnham, S., Waite, K., Olliffe, B. & Cahill, A. 2016, 'Student engagement in university decision-making and governance: How does Australia compare internationally?', Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual conference, Fremantle, Australia.
Varnham, S., Waite, K.M., Olliffe, B. & Cahill, A. 2015, 'Building the argument for more systemic student voice in university governance and decision-making in Australia: Learnings from the UK', Converging Concepts in global Higher Education Research: Local, national and international perspectives, Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Research Conference 2015, Newport, Wales, United Kingdom.
Varnham, S., Stuhmcke, A.G., Olliffe, B.M., Kamvounias, P. & Evers, M. 2013, 'Different Country, different hemisphere - same challenges: the student and the Australian University', Annual Conference of ENOHE/OIAHE, St Catherine's College, Oxford, UK.
Invited panel
Varnham, S. 2013, 'Regulation, Representation and Responsiveness the three `Rs of university governance? universities, students and the law', Informa Inaugural conference on Academic Governance, Sydney.
Varnham, S., Evers, M. & Booth, T. 2012, 'Valuing their voices: responsibility and retention through student participation in school decision making', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, de Mountfort University, Leicester, UK.
Annual conference of Socio-Legal Studies Association. Dissemination of ECRG Research project
Varnham, S. 2012, 'Higher Education in Australia: Treading Educational Quicksand Shakily or Assertively OxCHEPS Occasional Paper No. 49', 2012 Roundtable on US/UK Higher Education Law and Policy, New College, Oxford.
OxCHEPS Occasional Paper No. 49
Varnham, S. 2012, 'Higher Education Law and Policy US and UK', Chairs of Academic Boards, Senates and Secretaries, University of Adelaide.
Varnham, S. 2011, 'Hot Topics for Higher Education in Australia', the Ombuds Office in Canada Today: Looking Towards Tomorrow Conference, Vancouver, Canada, (audio presentation).
Varnham, S., Booth, T. & Evers, M. 2011, 'Let's Ask the Kids! practising citizenship and democracy in Australian Schools', The Learner Conference, University of Mauritius, Mauritius.
Paper later published in International Journal for Law and Education
Varnham, S. & Evers, M. 2011, 'Are you the person who? Reflections on the challenges and opportunities of the role of student ombudsmen in an Australian University', European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education, Madrid, Spain.
Varnham, S. & Booth, T. 2011, 'To live and learn through democratic practices: a case study of citizenship and democracy in an Australian School', Annual Conference of the Education Law Association, Chicago, US.
USB of papers
Varnham, S. 2011, 'Legal Issues Facing student ombudsmen in Australian Universities', Sustainable Education, Schools, Families and Communities - Education law and policy perspectives, Darwin, Australia.
Presentation as part of invited pre-conference symposium
Varnham, S. 2010, 'How, where and to whom? Student grievance resolution in Australian Universities', 45th Annual Conference of the Association of Law Teachers (ALT), Clare College, University of Cambridge, UK.
Varnham, S. 2009, 'Up with students' rights downunder: Students and university ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand', Annual Conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Russo, C., Varnham, S. & Squelch, J. 2009, 'Teachers and Social Networking Sites: Think before you post', Education: a risky business?, Melbourne, Australia.
Annual conference of ANZELA
Squelch, J. & Varnham, S. 2009, 'Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation - the three Rs of Education: A consideration of the state's control over parental choice in education', Annual Conference of Australasian Law Teachers Association (ALTA), Cairns, QLD, Australia.
Paper given by co-author A/Prof Joan Squelch in Law in non-law schools interest group
Varnham, S. & Fleming, H. 2008, 'Student v University in Australia: who, why, how, where?', Conference of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education UK, London United Kingdom.
First annual conference of IAHE UK and ENOHE
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2008, 'Unfair, unlawful or just unhappy? Allegations of discrimination made by students against their universities in Australia', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Manchester, UK.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2008, 'University teachers and the law: judicial scrutiny of decisions affecting students', Association of Law Teachers (ALT) Annual Conference, St Anne's College, Oxford, UK.
Varnham, S. 2008, 'A Matter of Contract? Student Contracts in Australia and New Zealand', Conference of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in the UK, London, United Kingdom.
First Annual Conference of OIAHE UK and ENOHE
Varnham, S. & Evers, M. 2008, 'Secular, Singular or Self-expression? Religious Freedom in schools in Australia and New Zealand', Achieving Excellence: Lawyers and Educators working together, Achieving Excellence: Lawyers and Educators working together, Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association (ANZELA), Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 255-278.
Bound collection of conference papers - 463 pages
Varnham, S., Squelch, J. & Russo, C. 2007, 'Funding of Private Schools: exploring a controversial issue in the United States, New Zealand and Australia', Contention and Controversy in Education Law, Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia.
Varnham, S. 2007, 'Restorative Practices in Schools in Australia and New Zealand: keeping"troublemakers" in school and keeping schools safe - a contradiction?', 5th Commonwealth Education Law Conference, Critical Issues in Education Law and Policy, LexisNexis, Williamsburg, Virginia, US.
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2007, 'Student v University - seldom successful and often unbecoming: The accountability of Higher Education institutions in External Tribunals', Annual Conference of the Education Law Association, US, Annual Conference of Education Law Association, Education Law Association, San Diego, US.
Varnham, S. 2007, 'Keeping Them Connected: Restorative Justice in Schools in Australia and New Zealand', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Annual Conference of Socio-Legal Studies Association, SLSA, Canterbury, UK.
Varnham, S. 2006, 'Search and Seizure in New Zealand Schools', Annual Conference of Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, Keeping People and Property Safe in the Educational Environment, ANZELA, Hobart, Tasmania.
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2006, 'Keeping them honest:higher education institutions and consumer protection laws', Annual Conference of the Australia and new Zealand Education Law Association, Keeping People and Property Safe in the Education Environment, ANZELA, Hobart, Tasmania.
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2005, 'The Courts and Higher Education: Legal challenges to decisions of academic judgement and academic discipline', 51st Annual Conference of the Education Law Association of US, 51st Annual Conference of the Education Law Association of US, Education Law Association, Memphis, Tennessee, US.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2005, 'Damning Decisions on Doctoral Dreams: judicial review of university academic decisions', Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, Free Speech, privacy and property rights in education, Promaco Conventions Pty Ltd, Perth, WA, Australia.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2005, 'In-House or in court? Legal Challenges to academic decisions', Australasian Law Teachers Association, Annual Conference of ALTA, ALTA, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Varnham, S. 2005, 'Citizenship in Schools: the gap between theory and practice', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, Annual Conference of SLSA, SLSA, Liverpool, UK.
Varnham, S. 2005, 'Language Rights in Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand', European Educational & Cultural Forum, European Educational and Cultural Forum, Wolf Legal Publishers, Bruges, Belgium.
Varnham, S. 2004, 'Physical, Emotional and Cultural Safety of New Zealand Schools" an exploration of legal issues', World Conference on the Right to and Rights in Education, World Conference on the Right to and Rights in Education, Wolf Legal Publishers, Amsterdam, Tilburg, the Hague.
Varnham, S. 2004, 'Lets ask the kids - Yeah right! Reaction or proaction? The case for greater student participation in school decision making', 13th Annual conference of the Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, ANZELA, Wellington, New Zealand.
Varnham, S. 2004, 'Damages without fault: the vicarious responsibility of an employer for sexual abuse', Australasian Law Teachers Association Annual Conference, ALTA Annual Conference, ALTA, Darwin, Australia.
Varnham, S. 2003, 'Getting Rid of Troublemakers: School exclusion and individual rights v school community', Annual Conference, Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, Annual Conference of ANZELA, ANZELA, Sydney, Australia.
Varnham, S. 2003, 'Blameless or Blameworthy? 'Principle and pragmatism' and the liability of schools for sexual abuse committed by employees', 2nd Annual Virgina Education Law conference, 2nd Annual Conference, Virginia Education Law Association, virginia Education Law Association, Richmond, Virginia, US.
Varnham, S. 2002, 'Mainstreaming or maindumping? Special education 2000 and Daniels v the Attorney-General', Annual Conference of ANZELA, Annual Conference of the Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association, ANZELA, Brisbane,Australia.

Journal articles

Varnham, S., Evers, M., Booth, T. & Avgoustinos, C. 2015, 'Valuing their Voices: Student Participation in Decision Making in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 1-16.
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Third article from ECRG project
Oguro, S., Varnham, S. & Payne, A.M. 2015, 'Integrating Human Rights Education in Schools: legislation, curriculum and practice', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 5-19.
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Given the increasing focus internationally on human rights education in the past two decades, this article examines recent developments in both human rights legislation and education in Australia. Despite opportunities to effectively integrate human rights education into school programs provided by a new Human Rights Framework and National Curriculum, there have been only limited outcomes to date for human rights education. Failure to systemically integrate human rights principles, topics and practices into school curriculum has resulted in a missed opportunity to create a human rights culture and improve understandings of human rights for Australian students.
Burridge, N., Chodkiewcz, A., Payne, A.M., Oguro, S., Varnham, S. & Buchanan, J. 2015, 'Human Rights Education in the Australian School Curriculum', Human Rights Education in Asia-Pacific, vol. 5, pp. 167-202.
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Australian education systems, at state and federal levels, have been undergoing major reforms to their governance structures and to the nature of their curriculum. At the same time over the last decade there has been a national conversation about our knowledge and understanding of human rights (NHRCC 2009). In this context, it is an opportune time to review the place of education for and about human rights within the school curriculum. The study reported on in this paper outlines and examines the findings of a nationwide investigation into the capacity of each state and territory school education system and their individual curricula to provide opportunities to educate and motivate school students about human rights. It also engages in a discussion of the curriculum reforms being introduced as a result of the national Australian curriculum framework and the extent to which it caters for human rights perspectives. Our data derive from four main sources: a review of the literature; input from roundtable discussions with participants involved in the advocacy for and the delivery of, human rights education in schools; analysis of curriculum and policy documents at the state, territory and national levels; and resources and technologies being used in the teaching of human rights in schools.
Varnham, S., Evers, M., Booth, T. & Avgoustinos, C. 2014, 'Democracy in Schools: Encouraging Responsibility and citizenship through student participation in school decision making', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 73-91.
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Second of four articles comprising report from ECRG project 2009-2012
Oguro, S.G., Burridge, N., Chodkiewicz, A., Varnham, S., Payne, A.M. & Buchanan, J. 2014, 'Human Rights Education in the Australian School Curriculum', vol. 5, pp. 167-202.
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II n Australia a number of initiatives - the National Consultation on Human Rights (nhrccc, 2009) and the Australian Human Rights Framework (2010) - have acknowledged the importance of supporting education about human rights in schools. The Framework: encompasses a comprehensive suite of education initiatives to ensure all Australians are able to access information on human rights. This includes the development of human rights education programs for primary and secondary schools, the community and for the Commonwealth public sector (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010: 7). In an address to New South Wales (nsw) teachers in 2009, prominent human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson argued strongly for the importance of human rights education: …. they [human rights] serve to show that privilege is an anachronism, that dogma is destructive, that freedom is a birthright and discrimination is a wrong that should never be suffered (Robertson, 2009)
Varnham, S. 2014, 'Rights and Realities in Australian and New Zealand Education: 'regular and systematic and not unsuitable'? 97-125. In: South African Education after Twenty Years of Democracy, Edited by Jan de Groof and Georgia du Plessis (eds.), IJELP Special Issue 2014.ISSN is: 1574-3454', Rights and Realities in Australian and New Zealand Education: 'regular and systematic and not unsuitable'? 97-125. In: South African Education after Twenty Years of Democracy, Edited by Jan de Groof and Georgia du Plessis (eds.), IJELP Special Issue 2014.ISSN is: 1574-3454, vol. Special Issue.
Varnham, S. & Evers, M. 2011, 'The challenges and opportunities of the role of student ombudsmen in an Australian university', Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 228-237.
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The feeling is often expressed that there are increasing numbers of students who are less interested in the student experience than in completing their qualifications with the best marks in the shortest possible time. In many instances this translates to a greater readiness to express dissatisfaction when the delivery of a course does not match up to expectations or when there is a perception of having been dealt with unfairly in terms of assessment or in other processes. It is ever more important that universities ensure that their processes and procedures are transparent, fair and consistent, and accommodating of diversity. Student ombudsmen playa vital role in this process, both in their investigations of requests for assistance and in their recommendations on systemic matters. This article considers the challenges faced by the authors in their roles as student ombuds in an Australian university. It contrasts the "last resort" model of student ombud used in that university with models used in other Australian universities and those in comparative jurisdictions, and considers which may be best suited to today's climate of higher education.
Varnham, S., Booth, T. & Evers, M. 2011, 'Let's Ask the Kids! - Practising Citizenship and Democracy in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 73-91.
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LetS ask the kids-yeah right! The focus of this article is a research project being undertaken in Australia which considers participative and restorative practices in New South Wales schools. Jt looks at the research inspiring this project which points to the part democratic principles may play in the engagement of children and young people in their schools and their education, and the development of citizenship principles which they take outside their school gates. This research considers the meaningful participation of children and young people in decision making in schools: its implementation, and its effectiveness and impact on school communities. Citizenship and democracy are about relationships, participation, rights and responsibility. In Australia and New Zealand, and comparative jurisdictions, the debate concerning the teaching of citizenship in schools has traditionally been centred on the extent to which civics education should be included in the school curriculum. In recent years the debate has widened to a more holistic view of citizenship or democracy in schools, from the restrictive approach of classroom learning only, to embrace teaching by practice and example within the school structure. Schools have a unique opportunity not only to teach democratic principles and values but also to reinforce and demonstrate that teaching by their practices and procedures. The model presented by a school provides a crucial template for the value system which students live by for the rest of their lives.
Russo, C.J., Squelch, J. & Varnham, S. 2010, 'Teachers and Social Networking Sites: Think before you post', Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-15.
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Social networking sites are highly popular and have profoundly changed the way people, including educators, communicate and interact. For many teachers the use of Facebook and MySpace is seen as a valuable educational tool and an integral part of their private social interaction. However, the exponential growth in the use of social networking sites by students and teachers alike has presented new legal, ethical and professional challenges for teachers and school administrators. Teachers might argue that their social networking sites are personal websites but they are ultimately very public spaces that leave an electronic trail that can have serious, albeit unintended, consequences for teachers who breach professional codes of conduct and education laws. Teachers face the risk of censured speech, professional misconduct and possible dismissal for posting inappropriate information including comments and pictures on these websites. The purpose of this article is to examine the legal and professional risks for teachers using social networking sites and it offers suggestions that school administrators might incorporate in their policies with regard to teachers use of social networking sites. The first part of the article reviews relevant US cases and the second part focuses on the following legal issues free speech, privacy and security of information, professional conduct, and the implications for teachers and school administrators in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Included in the second part are some practical recommendations for teachers and their lawyers as they develop policies addressing the use of social networking websites in the educational workplace.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2010, 'Legal Challenges to University Decisions Affecting Students in Australian Courts and Tribunals', Melbourne University Law Review, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 140-180.
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In an era of increased accountability, decisions that adversely affect university students are more open to internal and judicial scrutiny. This article considers student challenges to university decisions in the context of universities as public bodies. It begins with extrajudiciapl rocesses such as the University Visitor, parliamentary Ombudsmen and internal university Ombudsmen. It then provides a comprehensive analysis of litigation in Australia between students and universities in which students have challenged decisions about admission, course content, assessment, academic progress and both academic and non-academic misconduct. Australian courts and tribunals have accepted jurisdiction in certain circumstances but student-university litigation has generally been unsuccessful for the students either on technical jurisdictional grounds or on the facts. Judicial consideration of university decisions and administrative processes has provided some guidance that may assist in the formulation of improved internal processes, particularly relating to the resolution of complaints and appeals. This article argues that the diverse range of courts and tribunals currently used by students are inappropriatea nd inefficient and considers whether the time is rightf or serious consideration to be given to the establishment of a dedicated dispute resolution body for the Australian higher education sector
Jackson, J., Fleming, H., Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2010, 'Student Complaint Handling and Disciplinary Processes in the 21st Century Australian University', Education Law Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 108-116.
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Many university students at some time during their studies have a complaint or are the subject of disciplinary proceedings for academic misconduct. A course or assessment of a student's work may not measure up to expectations or a student may feel treated unfairly during a misconduct process. When this occurs, students may feel that their learning and engagement with the curriculum has been compromised. Inevitably, some students pursue their complaints, while others simply move on or, in more extreme cases, leave the system altogether. Conflicts with university faculties have been cited as one major reason why students leave graduate programmes in universities in the US.1 Aggrieved students are less likely to integrate and identify with the values and processes of the university.2 On the other hand, there are some students who are very aware of their rights and quite prepared to use internal and external mechanisms to exercise them.
Varnham, S. & Evers, M. 2009, 'Secular, Singular and self-expression: Religious freedom in Australian and New Zealand education', Irish Educational Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 279-296.
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Religious diversity in Australian and New Zealand Education
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2009, 'Unfair, Unlawful or Just Unhappy? Issues Surrounding Complaints of Discrimination made by Students Against their Universities in Australia', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 5-22.
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Unfair treatment, discrimination or unsatisfactory results? Recent years have seen a Significant increase in complaints ofdiscrimination made to external bodies by students against Australian universities. Some complaints start and finish in specialist tribunals, others move to re-examination in the courts. Whatever course the actions take, they have many jactors in common. Overwhelmingly, the complaints are precipitated bya decision ofacademicjudgement. Almost universally, the students represent themselves while universities retain legal counsel. Frequently the tribunals concerned pay heed to the difficulties faced by a student in such a position, expressly recognising the possibility of a miscarriage ofjustice and stressing the need to ensure against this occurring. Invariably. while the members ofthe tribunal or thejudge may show sympathy for the student in his or her plight, they are not satisfied that there was unlawful discrimination. Almost always, the complaints are dismissed or the actions are unsuccessful.
Varnham, S. 2008, 'My Home, My School, My Island: Home Education in Australia and New Zealand', Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice, vol. 2, pp. 1-30.
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There is evidence that more and more parents in the developed countries worldwide are choosing to educate their children at home. This is despite, or because of, the existence of comprehensive government education systems which assume state responsibility. New Zealand and Australia, in common with countries in the European Community, the United States and Canada have education legislation which aims to ensure that education is free, available and compulsory to all children generally between the ages of 5 and 15. Government schools are publicly funded and this funding inevitably comes with varying degrees of state control. There is also, in New Zealand and Australia, private and church education available for those parents who want a formal education for their children outside the government system. Despite these alternatives, parents are increasingly electing not to entrust the education of their children to any of the formal systems and are choosing instead to assume sole responsibility for this education. How do governments respond to this exercise of parental choice? This paper examines the current legal position of home education in Australia and New Zealand. It considers the reasons so many parents are now choosing to opt their children out of schools and keep them at home; and the extent to which the state allows them this choice.
Varnham, S. 2008, 'Keeping them connected: Restorative Justice in Schools in Australia and New Zealand - what progress?', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 71-82.
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Varnham, S. 2008, 'Restorative Justice in Schools', Education Review.
Varnham, S. & Squelch, J. 2008, 'Rights, responsibilities and regulation - the three Rs of education: a consideration of the state's control over parental choice in education', Education And The Law, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 193-208.
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Education is both a right and a responsibility. International instruments such as the International covenant on civil and political rights and the International convention on the rights of the child affirm the right of all children to education. This right is spelt out in the education legislation of all states and territories in Australia. Education is not only free but is compulsory for all children between certain ages. The obligation is imposed on parents (in accordance with definitions contained therein) to ensure that their children are both enrolled at and attend school. However, parental choice of education provider is allowed within each jurisdiction by way of state, private or church schools, all of which are registered and regulated to varying degrees by the state. The legislation of each jurisdiction also makes some degree of provision for parents who choose to opt out their children from any formal education setting and to educate them at home. Home education is also subject to state regulation. The assumption by the state of the responsibility for education guides this policy and legislation. The argument for state control of all education, no matter how and by whom it is provided, is that the state has an overriding interest in ensuring the economic well-being of its citizens and the growth of its intellectual capital. The state acknowledges that the responsibility for education is shared with parents, primarily by providing penalties for parents who fail to ensure enrolment and attendance of their children at a school. There is evidence that more and more parents in developed countries worldwide are choosing to educate their children at home, and anecdotal evidence suggests that Australia is part of this trend.
Varnham, S. 2008, 'Home Education in New Zealand and Australia: State responsibility and parental choice', International Journal of Education Law and Policy, vol. 4, no. 1-2, pp. 54-66.
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There is evidence that more and more parents in the developed countries worldwide are choosing to educate their children at home. This is despite, or because of, the existence of comprehensive government education systems which assume state responsibility. New Zealand and Australia, in common with countries in the European Community, the United States and Canada have education legislation which aims to ensure that education is free, available and compulsory to all children generally between the ages of 5 and 15. I Government schools are publicly funded and this funding inevitablyco'mes withvarying degrees of statecontrol:-Thereis also, in New Zealand and Australia,. private and church education available for those parents who want a formal education for their children outside the government system. Despite these alternatives, parents are increasingly electing not to entrust the education of their children to any of the formal systems and are choosing instead to assume sale responsibility for this education. How do governments respond to this exercise of parental choice? This paper examines the current legal position of home education in New Zealand and Australia. It considers the reasons so many parents are now choosing to opt their children out of schools and keeping them at home; and the extent to which the state supports them in this choice
Russo, C.J., Varnham, S. & Squelch, J. 2007, 'Safety and Student Searches in Schools in USA, New Zealand and Australia', Education Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 26-39.
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Varnham, S. 2007, 'The Law of Higher Education', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 109-112.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2006, 'Getting What They Paid For: Consumer Rights of Students in Higher Education', Griffith Law Review, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 306-332.
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Consumer rights of students in higher education: hot or not? Higher education institutions are increasingly viewed as service providers, and students are increasingly referred to as customers. This trend gives rise to questions as to the application of consumer protection laws in a university context. Recent judicial authority in Australia has arguably limited the public law rights of students in respect of universities. The way forward for aggrieved students now may be to take private law actions in contract and pursuant to consumer laws. There is evidence that suggests a use of consumer protection legislation beyond what was contemplated when this legislation was introduced. This paper will review recent developments in the case law in Australia and New Zealand and consider the effectiveness and appropriateness of consumer law as a means of redress for disgruntled university students.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2006, 'In House or in Court? Legal Challenges to University Decisions', Education And The Law, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 1-17.
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Every day, decisions are made in universities that affect students. When a decision adversely affects a particular student, what means of redress does that student have? The circumstances in which a student has a legal claim against their university are generally unclear. Courts have traditionally tended to draw a distinction between `purely academic' decisions and disciplinary decisions. There has been reluctance on the part of courts to intervene in non-disciplinary decisions which involve academic judgment, for example, the grade to be given to a student's work. On the other hand, where the decisions are purely disciplinary, for example, in relation to a student's behaviour towards others or towards university property, the courts have made it clear that there is essentially no difference between this and disciplinary matters within any other public institution or organization. However, disciplinary decisions that are connected with allegations of academic misconduct, for example, cheating and/or plagiarism, have been more problematic for the courts. Historically, the debate was whether any such decision was justiciable in public law. Recently the question has also been whether an aggrieved student may succeed in a private law action against a university. The legal issues raised by university decisions affecting students have not yet been clearly resolved in all jurisdictions. Indeed, in some cases, judges have raised many more questions than they have answered. This article will review the framework for legal challenges to university decisions against a background of recent judicial attitudes in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Varnham, S. & Kamvounias, P. 2006, 'The Courts and University Academic Decisions: damning decisions on doctoral dreams', New Zealand Law Journal, vol. April, pp. 105-108.
Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. 2005, 'Doctoral Dreams Destroyed: Does Griffith University v Tang spell the end of judicial review of Australian University decisions?', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 5-22.
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Vivian Tang was excluded from her doctoral program at Griffith University on the basis of academic misconduct. Her academic dreams in that or in any other university were thus effectively curtailed as were her prospects of following a career in her chosen field. She sought judicial review of the universitys decision. Her application and its progress through the courts have recently brought into focus the justiciability of university decisions of an academic nature. The university unsuccessfully sought to have the action dismissed in both the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Court of Appeal. However, the High Court allowed the universitys appeal and by a 4-1 majority held that the student was not entitled to judicial review. Has this case effectively shut the gate on court intervention in university decisions affecting individual students? This article considers the nature of the relationship between Australian universities and their students and the desirability of the courts scrutiny in light of the High Court decision and judicial attitudes in comparative jurisdictions.
Varnham, S. 2005, 'Seeing things differently: restorative justice and school discipline', Education And The Law, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 87-104.
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helping to incorporate the principles of human rights, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect, the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts into the daily practice of teaching and learning ...2 Bullying, harassment, anti-social behaviour, drug abusein recent years many safety issues concerning student behaviour confront school authorities. How should schools respond to behaviour that threatens school safety? Much discussion surrounds school responses and the levels of stand-downs, suspensions and expulsions. There is debate also concerning the pre-emptive measures, such as searching and drug testing, introduced by schools in an attempt to guard against such behaviour. The question needs to be asked: Why do young people behave badly in school? Is it that the majority of students feel that schooling is something that is `done to them rather than a process in which they are active valued and significant participants? Should schools be moving towards more meaningful involvement of students not only in building the school community but also in solving problems within that community? There is a currently a great deal of research in New Zealand and the comparative jurisdictions concerning both the teaching of citizenship in formal education and the introduction of school cultures which embrace the right to participation of young people. This article picks up on the theme of citizenship in schools by considering processes by which conflict and safety issues may be dealt with by the school community as a whole, based on the restoration of relationships rather than punishment. It looks particularly at restorative justice practices such as peer mediation in the case of student conflict and school community conferencing.
Varnham, S. 2005, 'Citizenship in Schools: the gap between theory and practice', Education And The Law, vol. 17, no. 1-2, pp. 53-64.
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Upon leaving school, young people are expected to play an active part as citizens in a democratic society. Are schools providing them with the tools to do this? Citizenship is taught in schools, but to what extent is it practised? Many safety issues concerning student behaviour and student conflict confront school authorities. In what ways are students learning to take responsibility for the safety of their school environments? Generally, schools in New Zealand and in comparative jurisdictions continue to operate on a traditional authoritarian hierarchical basis. Within these structures students could rightly feel that schooling is something which is `done to them rather than their being engaged as active participants. School authorities have a moral and legal responsibility to maintain a learning environment which is physically and emotionally safe and free from hostility. Traditionally reactive measures such as searching, drug testing and exclusion are used by schools with the aim of fulfilment of that duty. Research indicates that these measures have met with limited success in terms of school safety, and that in any event they may expose school authorities to challenge from students on the basis that their rights have been violated.
Varnham, S. 2005, 'Getting Rid of Troublemakers', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 53-69.
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Varnham, S. 2004, 'School Safety and Disability Discrimination', Education And The Law, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 47-60.
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Varnham, S. 2004, 'Reinspecting Real Estate Agents', New Zealand Law Journal, vol. April, pp. 140-144.
Varnham, S. 2004, 'Who's to Blame?', New Zealand Law Journal, vol. March, pp. 60-63.
Varnham, S. 2004, 'Daniels v The Attorney-General:children with special needs and the right to education in New Zealand', International Journal of Education Law and Policy, vol. 1, no. 1-2, pp. 236-241.
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The nature of the right to education and the extentto which it is judicially enforceable has recently been atissue before the New Zealand High Court and the Court of Appeal, in the case of Daniels v. Ihe Attorney-General' In Septemberrooo a parent ofLinda Daniels, a child with special educational needs, applied to the High Court for judicial review ofthe special education policy known as Special Education 2000 (SE2000) which had been introduced in 1998 by the then Minister of Education In the period before the hearing in the High Court in December 2 001 the plaintiffwas joined by 14 other parents of children with special educational needs. Essentially the plaintiffs wanted their children to have the choice of attending special education facilities where mainstreaming was.inappropriate or ineffective The plaintiffs alleged that the policy of SE2000, pursuantto which these facilities were disestablished, infringed the right to equal education ofchildren with special educational needs as provided by the Education Act 1989 (NZ)
Varnham, S. 2003, 'Who's to blame? May a school be liable for the intentional torts of its employees?', Education And The Law, vol. 15, no. 2-3, pp. 183-199.
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Varnham, S. 2002, 'Copping Out or Copying? An exploration of the legal issues relating to students' challenging academic decisions', Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 21-38.
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Varnham, S. 2002, 'Special Education 2000 and Daniels v the Attorney-General: Equality of access to education for children with special needs in New Zealand', Education And The Law, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 283-300.
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Focuses on the equality of access to education for children with special needs in New Zealand. Discussion of the case 'Daniels v. The Attorney-General'; Consideration for degrees of disability; Legislative basis for equality of education
Varnham, S. 2002, 'Do cheats Prosper?', New Zealand Law Journal, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 416-419.
Varnham, S. 2001, 'Recent Developments in New Zealand: Tomorrow's Schools Today- legal issues in New Zealand education', Education And The Law, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 77-85.
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Discusses the main features of the New Zealand education system and the legal issues that have arisen since the inception of the system in 1989. Types of schools; Employment of teachers by school boards of trustees; Relationship between school boards and principals; Role of principals and school boards in student discipline.
Varnham, S. 2001, 'Conduct Unbecoming: the dilemma of a school's responsibility in respect of teacher misconduct towards pupils', Education And The Law, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 109-125.
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It was recently remarked that if the infamous schoolmaster, Wackford Squeers, in Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, was around today his pupils would probably accuse him of assault and the police would be paying a visit to his school, Dotheboys Hall. Though a casual comment, a great deal of truth lies therein. In the 'rights culture' of today, the manner in which adults may exercise authority over children is markedly different to that of even 20 years ago. The majority of teachers act in a professional manner and carry out their duties, often under great pressure, with the best interests of their students uppermost in their minds. However, this is not always the case. With reasonable frequency, there are reports of teachers behaving towards their students in ways which range from inappropriate to culpable. In the worst scenario the accusations are of sexual abuse, but there are also those of physical or verbal bullying. There is nowadays an increased recognition of the harmful and lasting effects of different forms of abuse, and the responsibility of those in authority to prevent it happening. In recent years New Zealand school administrators have been faced with dealing appropriately with allegations of a teacher's misconduct in a variety of different ways towards their students. A school board of trustees has a dilemma in that it must discharge dual responsibilities, in respect of its students and its staff. This article examines the legal implications of those responsibilities. It also considers the responsibility of a school in a wider context to other schools and to the community at large.
Varnham, S. 2001, 'Straight Talking, Straight Teaching: are New Zealand tertiary institutes potentially liable to their students under consumer protection legislation?', Education And The Law, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 303-317.
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Consumerism has become an officially approved fashion. In recent years we have seen the enactment of progressive consumer rights legislation aimed at redressing the balance between consumers and suppliers. In New Zealand the reform of tertiary education, begun with the Education Act 1989, has led to a shift in the relationship between institutes and students. Market culture is progressively being applied to tertiary education. Institutes are holding themselves out as providing an 'educational product' and are actively competing for students both nationally and internationally. In turn students, as purchasers of that product, at an ever-increasing cost, are demanding greater standards of straight talking and straight teaching. There are indications that this is leading to thoughts of legal accountability for any deficiencies in the education product. This is both in terms of what institutes hold themselves out as providing and the quality of that provision. This article considers the effect of provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1986 and the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 on the potential liability of tertiary institutes.
Varnham, S. 2001, 'Decisions of academic judgement and discipline in New Zealand tertiary institutes: do cheats prosper?', Education And The Law, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 389-401.
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Explores disciplinary decision-making in higher education in New Zealand. Decisions involving academic judgment; Students' behavior in school; Academic misconduct; Consequences of disciplinary actions to a student.
Varnham, S. 2001, 'The Education Amendment Bill (No 2) - School Safety and Standards in New Zealand', Education And The Law, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 163-171.
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Focuses on the Education Amendment Bill in New Zealand. School standards and safety laws; Establishment of th eEducation Council.

Reports

Burridge, N., Chodkiewicz, A.K., Payne, A., Oguro, S.G., Varnham, S. & Buchanan, J.D. UTS: CCS 2013, Human rights education in the school curriculum, pp. 3-75, Australia.
Study funded by Australian Attorney-General's Department through the Human Rights Education Framework Grants Program
Jackson, J., Fleming, H., Kamvounias, P. & Varnham, S. Australian Learning and Teaching Council 2009, Student Grievances and Discipline Matters Project, pp. 1-194, Sydney, Australia.
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Since the mid 1990s, participation in Australian higher education has increased markedly. According to statistics published by the Commonwealth, the total number of students enrolled in Australian higher education institutions in 1995 was 604,176. That figure increased to 1,029,846 in 2007, an increase of about 70.5%.1 There has been much speculation about whether there has been a marked increase in complaints (including litigation). While our research reveals a marked increase in overall numbers of complaints (including litigation), commensurate with increases in student numbers since 1995, it is another thing to say that the rise in complaints is out of proportion to increases in student numbers. Indeed, our research findings were inconclusive (Jackson, Fleming, Kamvounias, & Varnham, 2009, Ch 3.2.6). Since the establishment of the Australian Universities Quality Agency in 2000, universities have had to turn their attention to irnprovements in the provision of quality teaching and learning. However, unlike developments in the United Kingdom, little attention has been paid to establishing any code, set of principles or guidelines in relation to the handling of student grievances and discipline matters. The project team is of the view that quality learning and teaching in universities should encompass quality in internal mechanisms for handling student complaints and appeals. To that end, the project team undertook research in this area during 2007 and 2008 to identify and scope some of the problems that arise in the way universities handle complaints and appeals, and to suggest ways in which mechanisms might be improved.