25 April 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
Advanced Search
Academic Freedom
Time for Bologna to stand up for academic freedom
The attack on the Central European University marks a critical moment for the European Union. Silence implies weakness. It is time for Bologna to break with the convention of not making announcements between political meetings and seize the opportunity to defend academic freedom. Photo credit: EPA
The strangling of a democratic student movement
There have been more than 2,300 human rights violations against students since the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The ensuing state-led crackdown on universities, including measures to silence students and other critical actors in society, signals an imminent crisis for higher education, according to a new report.
Academic jailed for 10 years for human rights tweets
Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith, a prominent economist, academic and human rights defender, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweeting criticism of the human rights record of both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Before the verdict was given, a coalition of 10 human rights organisations had urged the United Arab Emirates authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.
Independent thinking under attack from nationalists
Amendments to higher education law proposed by the Hungarian government target one international university in particular – the Central European University, which played a central role in rebuilding democracy across the region – and are aimed at forcing it to shut down. It is part of an emerging trend of seeing universities as a threat.
Academia needs to be ready to defend its freedom
Academic freedom is about the right to freely think, question and share ideas. Now more than ever there is a great need to join forces to promote the academic freedom of university staff, students and higher education institutions around the globe.
Iranian scholar faces threat of death sentence
Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born scholar imprisoned in Iran since April 2016 in connection with international collaboration with scholars from countries considered to be 'enemy states', has been threatened with a charge that carries the death sentence, according to human rights organisations. He was collaborating with Iranian universities in his capacity as a visiting professor on disaster medicine.
How should universities confront a post-truth world?
Universities need to defend academic freedom and research by re-establishing a respect for objective truth and powerful arguments. They must become trust-builders as well as truth-seekers by creating many more arenas for debate.
Can academic freedom make space for minority groups?
A debate about academic freedom versus inclusivity has hit the headlines, but what it shows more than anything is a need for our understanding of academic freedom to evolve so inclusivity and academic freedom can be seen as complementary forces.
Can academic freedom make space for minority groups?
A debate about academic freedom versus inclusivity has hit the headlines, but what it shows more than anything is a need for our understanding of academic freedom to evolve so inclusivity and academic freedom can be seen as complementary forces.
Is imprisoned academic a victim of a mass witchhunt?
A letter from a prominent academic held without trial in a Turkish prison, passed to University World News in a week when 73 more academics have been detained, raises questions about whether academics are being rounded up as part of a legitimate investigation into real threats to the state or to clamp down on dissenting voices.
Turkey’s trampling of freedoms is Europe’s problem too
The threats to academics in Turkey are part of a wider European problem of a growing illiberalism that we must all confront. Academic freedom is an ongoing process that must be constantly fought for.
Of spies, academic freedom and institutional autonomy
At the start of his first lecture with a group of new students a prominent University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer always used to say: “I know there are spies among you sent to record what I say in my lectures – go ahead, I don’t care.” But he was an exception and today there remain many reasons for academics to fear criticising the government.
Academic faces up to 15 years in jail for tweets
United Arab Emirates authorities have violated basic rights and academic freedom in their prosecution of the Emirati academic Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, a coalition of nine human rights organisations said on 13 October.
Changes to academic contracts threaten free speech
Some universities are attempting to insert new clauses into their employment contracts that aim to limit academics’ ability to speak freely in public debate.
Calls for prosecution over PhD thesis on Soviet traitor
A leading historian of Russia's little known wartime collaboration with Nazi Germany is facing calls for a criminal investigation after defending his PhD thesis on a Red Army general who turned traitor against Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and led a small Russian force against the Soviet side in the latter stages of the war.
Threats to government critics – and their families
Academics are being threatened and harassed for criticising the Thai regime and the West is turning a blind eye.
Defending freedom in the digital age
This year has seen an unprecedented level of protests from the Middle East Studies Association on academic freedom in the Middle East, with attacks in Turkey representing the broadest targeted assault against academics the association has seen. Campaigners have been aided by an explosion in information about violations on digital platforms.
‘Patriotic’ move threatens academic freedom
The threat to strip a Holocaust expert of a national honour is a direct attack on academic freedom as Poland’s right-wing government seeks to promote a ‘patriotic’ version of the past.
Academics pay for resisting militarised politics
While the European Union and the United States have turned a blind eye to the Turkish government’s brutal clampdown in Kurdish regions, Turkish academics who have spoken out about the regime’s increasingly dictatorial policies have faced punishment and even imprisonment.
The murder of Giulio is an attack on academic freedom
The murder of my friend Giulio Regeni in Cairo is a direct challenge to the academic freedom that is a pillar of our higher education system. He is only one of many scholars to find themselves in grave danger. As a scholarly community and as a society, we have a duty to strike to protect them.
Campus crackdown on ‘Western values’
An ideological crackdown in China’s universities, promoting Communist Party allegiance and slamming any adherence to ‘Western values’, accompanied by a heightened suppression of freedom of speech, has fuelled concerns about the future of higher education, academic freedom and liberal academics in the country.
GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
In Iran, another scientist has died in a bomb attack strongly resembling earlier assassinations of those involved in the country's controversial nuclear programme. In Sudan, peaceful student protests across the country have been violently suppressed by security forces. Academics and students at Israel's Tel Aviv University have condemned the institution's security services for acting like a "secret police on campus" in pressuring lecturers to help them spy on students. And in Sri Lanka, thousands of students protesting a range of grievances have been evicted from their campus following a court order.
GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
In Uzbekistan, a female Uzbek student on vacation from studies in Germany has committed suicide after four days of police interrogation. In Turkey, 22 of 28 leftist youths detained for six months over accusations of terrorist links have been released after a court rejected the accusations against them. Professor Nasser bin Gaith of Abu Dhabi's Sorbonne University, along with four others detained for eight months for signing an online pro-reform petition, has been freed after a presidential pardon. In Iran, an imprisoned rights activist has been denied leave to write a graduate admissions test. And in Tunisia, Islamic fundamentalist groups have disrupted university classes and exams and have targeted female professors.
GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
In Turkey, 57 members of the Academy of Sciences have resigned in protest against a government decree that will end the academy's autonomy. In Bahrain, university students are under attack by the authorities, with hundreds being tried for pro-democracy activities and six recently receiving 15-year sentences and hefty fines in a court case widely criticised as unfair. Papuan students in Indonesia are being targeted by the authorities for what human rights groups describe as generalised intimidation and threats. And in Azerbhaijan, a top scientist has been demoted for questioning the legality of the detention of youth activist Baxtiyar Haciyev, amid moves against the Azerbaijani intelligentsia.
GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
In Turkey, in an ongoing operation against Kurdish political parties, two academics have been arrested and charged under the Anti Terror Law, but there are concerns about fair trial standards. In the Philippines, educators and activists fear for their lives after the brutal killing of a university vice-president and given escalating - seemingly politically motivated - attacks and murders. In Bahrain, concerns have been expressed about the fairness of the trial of a professor arrested and suspended from his position, amid a wider crackdown on academic freedoms. In Laos rights groups are calling for the release of political prisoners, including four student leaders who remain incarcerated 12 years after protests in the country were crushed. And a US climate change scientist has hailed as a victory for academic freedom and science a court ruling to deny access by a pro-industry think-tank to his private emails.