Academic Freedom Media Review: April 16 - 22, 2021

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Posted: 24-04-2021 02:30 | Views: 1162

Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements. Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the search results reflect those of the originating author and/or publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Scholars at Risk or its members, affiliates, board or staff. An archive of the Media Review is available on our website.

GLOBAL: The Academic Freedom Index: a powerful instrument for policy and practice
Ilyas Saliba and Janika Spannagel, European University Association, 4/21
Co-developers of the Academic Freedom Index Ilyas Saliba and Janika Spannagel propose five ways universities and civil society can use the index data to strengthen academic freedom, including by incorporating academic freedom into university excellence rankings.
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CHINA / HONG KONG: China’s Communist Party targets HKU student union
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 4/20
People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party, released an article attacking the student union at the University of Hong Kong after the students addressed an open letter to the university’s president, Xiang Zhang, asking how the national security law would be implemented into the curriculum.
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INDIA: Indian scholars fear further squeeze on freedom as sector expands
Joyce Lau, Times Higher Education, 4/19
Indian scholars fear that the country’s National Education Policy (NEP) will further restrain academic freedom following the resignation of high-profile academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta from Ashoka University due to alleged political pressure.
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MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Self-Censorship in Arab Higher Education: an Untold Problem
Rasha Fack, Al-Fanar Media, 4/18
A survey of academics at Arab universities, conducted by Scholars at Risk and Al-Fanar Media, found that 75% of respondents engage in academic self-censorship, or refraining from teaching, researching, or speaking about specific topics for fear of punishment from governments or universities. The response suggests that freedom of expression is at risk in the region.
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MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA: Academic Self-Censorship Is a ‘Brain Drag’ on Arab Universities and Societies
Robert Quinn, Al-Fanar Media, 4/18
SAR Executive Director Robert Quinn suggests that the findings of the Scholars at Risk-Al-Fanar Media self-censorship survey indicate a ‘brain drag’ in the Arab region, or the loss of creative and professional productivity that would have been, but for the fear of retaliation.
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GLOBAL: World university rankings are rewarding totalitarianism
Carsten A. Holz, University World News, 4/17
Carsten A. Holz draws attention to the absence of academic freedom from university rankings. Holz contends that if one adjusts the rankings to include academic freedom, universities under totalitarian regimes would drop to the bottom of rankings lists.
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HUNGARY: SAR urges Hungary to restore and protect university autonomy
Ben Upton, Research Professional News, 4/16
Scholars at Risk calls on the Hungarian government to “restore and protect” academic freedom in its recent submission to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of Hungary.
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CHINA: Historians concerned as China launches ‘distortion’ hotline
Joyce Lau, Times Higher Education, 4/16
The Cyberspace Administration of China announced the creation of a “hotline” where people are urged to report incidents of people distorting China’s history or defaming “national heroes.” Professors warn the hotline could place further restrictions on academic freedom in the country.
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SOUTH AFRICA: Universities want to come together to tackle student challenges
Thami Magubane, The Mercury via University World News, 4/14
South African universities are seeking ways to form a structure to address student grievances following weeks of violent student protests calling for the cancellation of student debt. Chairpersons of the councils of ten universities met to develop a plan moving forward.
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GLOBAL: Researchers at risk need dedicated support
Orla Duke and Beata Kowalska, Research Professional News, 4/14
SAR Europe Programme Manager Orla Duke warns of the increasing frequency of attacks on the global higher education community. Inspireurope, a joint effort between SAR Europe and funded by the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, facilitates transnational cooperation in Europe to support scholars who are at risk.
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TURKEY: Violations of students’ rights in Turkey: ‘23 students killed in 4 years’
Bianet, 4/12
The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey released a report revealing that 3,102 students were subjected to violations of rights while exercising freedom of expression, assembly, and association from the years 2015 to 2019.
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ISRAEL: Israeli university presidents defend free speech in dispute over Israel Prize
Times of Israel Staff, The Times of Israel via University World News, 4/10
Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Gallant temporarily blocked scholar Oded Goldreich from receiving the Israel Prize for mathematics and computer science over political statements he made supporting the Palestinian-led international boycott of Israel.
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