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Global Decline in Academic Freedom Revealed by Index

Academic Freedom

The latest Academic Freedom Index, published as part of a report by Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, highlights a concerning trend: academic freedom is under threat globally. Only one in three individuals reside in countries that safeguard the independence of universities and research, with significant declines observed in Russia, China, and India. Here are some details according to the report of The Philippines Star.

Indicators of Decline

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Attacks on freedom of expression, interference in academic affairs, and the imprisonment of researchers are among the indicators signaling the erosion of academic freedom worldwide.

Based on insights from over 2,300 experts across 179 countries, the Academic Freedom Index evaluates changes in higher education and research by analyzing five key indicators: freedom of research and teaching, academic exchange, academic and cultural expression, institutional autonomy, and campus integrity.

Deteriorating Landscape

Despite human rights treaties committing 171 states to uphold scientific research freedom, recent deteriorations in populous countries have led to only a third of the global population living in nations with robust academic freedom.

The report reveals that 45.5 percent of the world’s population, totaling 3.6 billion people, reside in countries where academic freedom is severely restricted, emphasizing a troubling global trend.

Autocratisation Examples

India, China, and Russia exhibit significant declines, attributed to what experts term “autocratisation.” In India, academic freedom has plummeted notably since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, with instances such as the denial of entry to British-Indian academic Nitasha Kaul underscoring the issue.

The index also notes unexpected declines in academic freedom in the United States since 2019, reflecting heightened polarization within society and the political system.

European Landscape

Most European countries maintain high academic freedom standards, although Hungary and Poland exhibit lower scores. However, there are hopes for improvement in Poland under the new government led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Amidst these challenges, experts call for reasoned, evidence-based debates on university campuses to address divisive issues and safeguard academic freedom globally.

Read Also: Russia Mourns as Toll from Concert Hall Massacre Climbs to 137

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