UCD risks being a pawn in China’s bigger game

Posted in Governance and administration on September 15th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“The main higher education story over the past two years has rightfully been the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone from students to senior management has coped as best as possible in extraordinary circumstances. But the impact of another global development in the sector that has been slowly unfolding for years has now also became acute, and that is the growing threat to academic freedom …” (more)

[Alexander Dukalskis and David Farrell, Irish Times, 15 September]

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Karran, Beiter and Mallinson, ‘Academic freedom in contemporary Britain: A cause for concern?’

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 21st, 2021 by steve

Abstract: Using comparable legal information, and empirical data from over 2000 members of the UK’s University and College Union and 2000 staff in universities of the European states, gathered by means of similar surveys, this paper is a comparative assessment of the de jure protection for, and the de facto levels of, academic freedom enjoyed by academic staff in the UK, when compared to their EU counterparts. The paper examines the legal and constitutional protection for academic freedom and the current levels of, and changes to, the two substantive elements (freedom to teach and freedom to research) and three supportive components (autonomy, governance and tenure) of academic freedom. The study reveals that UK academic staff believe that there is a low level of protection for academic freedom and that it has declined, both in general, and with respect to the two substantive elements and three supportive components of academic freedom. Similar trends are evident in the EU states, but statistical tests reveal that for every measure utilised, the decline in academic freedom is significantly greater in the UK than in the EU states.

Terence Karran, Klaus D Beiter and Lucy Mallinson, Academic freedom in contemporary Britain: A cause for concern?’, Higher Education Quarterly, https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12346. First published: 20 July 2021.

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IFUT continues its work to Protect and Promote Academic Freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on July 13th, 2021 by steve

IrelandIrish Federation of University Teachers calls on Irish Universities to do more to protect and assist Scholars at Risk. Around the globe, courageous scholars who debunk baseless theories and false narratives, and who promulgate research-findings that are inconvenient to those in power, are at risk of being silenced, sometimes through violent means …” (more)

[Anthony Harvey, IFUT, 12 July]

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UCD president felt staff academic freedom concerns were ‘overreaction’

Posted in Governance and administration on June 8th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“University College Dublin president Andrew Deeks privately told staff in the university’s politics department that their concerns about threats to academic freedom, from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, were an ‘overreaction’. Academics expressed concerns after The Irish Times reported the chief executive of Huawei Ireland had written to Minister for Defence Simon Coveney about an article by a UCD academic criticising the company’s ties to the Chinese government …” (more)

[Jack Power, Irish Times, 8 June]

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Defending Plurality: Four Reasons Why We Need to Rethink Academic Freedom in Europe

Posted in Governance and administration on April 19th, 2021 by steve

“Academic freedom is under attack, both in authoritarian democracies, such as Hungary and Turkey, and in liberal Western democracies, such as the United States, the UK, France and Germany. For example, Gender Studies are being targeted by right-wing governments in Eastern Europe, and in France President Emmanuel Macron has attacked post-colonial and critical theories as ‘Islamo-gauchisme’, portraying them as a danger to the Republic …” (more)

[Karsten Schubert, Verfassungsblog, 19 April]


DCU ‘astonished’ over Georgian and Ukrainian embassy complaints about course

Posted in Governance and administration on April 19th, 2021 by steve

Ireland“Dublin City University says it is ‘astonished’ over a complaint made by the Embassies of Georgia and Ukraine in Ireland about the university’s teaching of a course on the geopolitics of the Caucasus and Ukraine …” (more)

[Diarmaid Fleming, RTÉ News, 18 April]

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The EU and defending academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on October 13th, 2020 by steve

“Sir, – Patrick Smyth (‘Commission lacks teeth in its promotion of rule of law’, Opinion & Analysis, October 10th) reports the rector of the Central European University (CEU), Michael Ignatieff, as asserting that his institution is the only university since the 1930s to have been expelled from one country (Hungary) to another (Austria). This is not the case …” (more)

[Ronald J Hill, Irish Times, 13 October]

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Academic freedom is under pressure in Irish universities

Posted in Governance and administration on June 4th, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Academic freedom is essential to the university’s mission of discovering new knowledge and teaching existing knowledge to students. It is unfortunately under threat worldwide from pressures both internal and external to the academy …” (more)

[William Reville, Irish Times, 4 June]


We Can’t Take Academic Freedom for Granted. Troubling Developments in UCD Prove It

Posted in Governance and administration on April 14th, 2020 by steve

“Last week’s news that University College Dublin (UCD) has abandoned plans to amend its policy on academic freedom came at a timely moment. While the world’s eyes are largely fixed on one point right now, many experts are urging caution about some of the potentially life-changing measures being hurried in to fight the coronavirus pandemic …” (more)

[University News, 13 April]

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Concern over proposed changes to UCD’s academic freedom

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on April 10th, 2020 by steve

“University College Dublin (UCD) has dropped proposed changes to its academic freedom policy to allow for ‘different interpretations’ of the concept due to the university’s expanding links to China and other countries, following a significant backlash from academics. The draft policy, seen by The Irish Times, states UCD must consider ‘the risk of tension’ between its obligations to uphold academic freedom and ‘the strategic imperative to internationalise higher education’ …” (more)

[Jack Power, Irish Times, 9 April]

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UCD Abandons Restrictive Academic Freedom Policy Following Staff Backlash

Posted in Governance and administration on April 2nd, 2020 by steve

“Following vocal criticism from academic staff, UCD have abandoned a proposed addendum to the university’s Statement on Academic Freedom. Academics have expressed ‘shock’ at the addendum, calling the proposed changes ‘a source of embarrassment to our University’, and something that would ‘compromise’ the existing policy. UCD revised its position following the success of an online petition which garnered almost 500 signatures …” (more)

[Conor Capplis, College Tribune, 2 April]

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It’s academic …

Posted in Governance and administration on April 1st, 2020 by steve

“A week passed, so activists had time to galvanize colleagues via an online petition. Hundreds immediately protested against the proposed dilution of the principle of Academic Freedom. And now, the Chair of UCD’s committee on Academic Freedom has issued a statement. The statement asserts UCD’s devotion to the principle of undiluted Academic Freedom. So far, so academic …” (more)

[In a Strange Land, 1 April]

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Academic Freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on March 24th, 2020 by steve

“I was asked once to write a piece on Academic Freedom. It struck me then, as now, that it’s more about ‘Responsibility’ or ‘Duty’ than about ‘Freedom’. It’s a sort of ‘Hippocratic Oath’ for truth-tellers. So how can it happen that a group of people, probably a lot younger than I am and so a lot less cognitively impaired, certainly no dumber than I was myself in previous decades, would suggest sabotaging an Irish university’s policy on ‘Academic Responsibility’? …” (more)

[In a Strange Land, 24 March]

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Clamping Down

Posted in Governance and administration on March 23rd, 2020 by steve

“So there I was, feeling heartless. Why couldn’t I feel more genuine pity for the Captains of Enterprise who had steered their Starship Universities onto the global barrier reefs? The panic was, after all, palpable in the ‘engine-room directive’ to keep the orders coming for next year’s foreign trade …” (more)

[In a Strange Land, 23 March]

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General Election 2020 – Five Steps to Revive Higher Education

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Governance and administration on January 21st, 2020 by steve

Ireland“IFUT calls on all parties forming the next government to adopt the following as part of the Programme for Government: 1. Phase out student fees and revise the grant system to address the excessive costs for so many in, or contemplating entering, Higher Education …” (more)

[IFUT, 20 January]

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Academic freedom is under threat around the world – here’s how to defend it

Posted in Governance and administration on October 11th, 2019 by steve

International“Academic freedom is at the heart of successful universities. UNESCO defines it as the right ‘to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing results’. Academics have pointed out that it also means self-governance and security of academic jobs to ensure independence …” (more)

[Eva Pils and Marina Svensson, Academic Matters, 10 October]


Third level reforms will have ‘no implications’ for academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on July 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Department of Education has insisted that plans for sweeping reforms to the regulation of third level institution will not undermine the autonomy of universities. Minister of State for higher education Mary Mitchell O’Connor has published detailed legislative proposals for the reform of the 50-year-old Higher Education Authority Act …” (more)

[Irish Times, 25 July]

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Academic Freedom at Risk in Italy

Posted in Governance and administration, Legal issues on May 30th, 2019 by steve

“Calls by Italy’s far-right governing party for a book about it to be removed from a university reading list have been met with limited resistance, Italian academics have warned, opening the door for further attacks on academic freedom in the future. Last month, a regional branch of the League, part of Italy’s governing coalition and currently the country’s most popular party, demanded the removal of La Lega di Salvini from the reading list of a course taught by a political science professor at the University of Bologna …” (more)

[David Matthews, Inside Higher Ed, 30 May]

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Academic Freedom Goes to Court

Posted in Governance and administration on December 15th, 2017 by steve

“The repression of academics in Turkey is worsening, writes Scott McLemee, who describes the growing international protest on behalf of such scholars and how one might join it …” (more)

[Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, 15 December]

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Israel and academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on June 29th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – The Irish Federation of University Teachers wishes to draw attention to a ‘code of ethics’ being considered by the government in Israel for its academic institutions. It represents a threat not only to academic freedom but to Israel’s standing as a democracy …” (more)

[Mike Jennings, Irish Times, 29 June]

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