Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

Campaign win - University of Sydney to welcome the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, 01 May 2013

The University of Sydney has responded to the intense outcry from the public and its students and staff over its decision to cancel the Dalai Lama’s talk on campus.

On 13 June, the Dalai Lama will speak to students at the talk under the theme “Education Matters”. The talk will be hosted by the university’s Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, who had earlier agreed to host the event and then pulled out a few weeks ago following a number of restrictions from the university’s vice-chancellor.

Tibetan students will be invited to the rescheduled talk. The university also states that no restrictions over publicity will be put on the event.

In its statement on 23 April, the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights agrees “to host an on-campus lecture for students” and “hopes that the event will form part of a determined commitment of the University of Sydney to develop a constructive dialogue on matters concerning Tibet and the wider region.”

The university’s change of heart was a direct result of the public pressure.

On 16 April, the ABC broke the story that the university having agreed to host the event in the beginning had withdrawn its support and proposed holding the talk off campus to preserve access of university researchers to China, where the government brands the Dalai Lama as a “separatist”.

Within a week, the university received thousands of emails from thousands of Australia Tibet Council supporters, who signed our petition to the vice-chancellor Dr Michael Spence to stand for academic integrity by allowing the Dalai Lama to speak to students.

Along with Students for a Free Tibet, International Tibet Network and International Campaign for Tibet, we organised scores of letters, emails and other actions including a rally that demonstrated the public and students’ concern at the university’s move and the strength of support for the Dalai Lama and all he represents.

This is an important victory for Tibetans and supporters. Together we have stopped the Chinese government from blocking the Dalai Lama’s message to students and have sent a strong message to universities in Australia and around the world not to cave in to pressure from the Chinese government.


ATC blog, 30 April: Lessons learned from a Tibet campaign win
ATC oped, 24 April: Uni gets a lesson on vested interest
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April: University agrees to Dalai Lama visit
Honi Soit, 21 April: Chinese whispers: The Dalai Lama and Sydney University 
ABC, 18 April: Uni under fire for pulling pin on Dalai Lama event
Guardian, 18 April: Sydney University criticised for blocking Dalai Lama visit

International Tibet Network
Students for a Free Tibet

Read ATC's 2009 report on Chinese government influence in Australia:  ATC Report: Courting the Dragon (April 2009)