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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How should universities respond when academic freedom is under threat?

Posted in Governance and administration on May 13th, 2017 by steve

“When European university leaders met last month for the annual European University Association conference in Bergen, Norway, top of the agenda was university independence and academic freedom. The focus on autonomy was timely …” (more)

[Paul Boyle, Times Higher Education, 13 May]

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President warns of threat to academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on November 30th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“President Michael D Higgins has warned of the growing global threat to academic freedom and democracy, just days after he controversially paid tribute to Fidel Castro …” (more)

[Allison Bray, Independent, 30 November]

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Academic Freedom Under Threat Everywhere

Posted in Governance and administration on November 8th, 2016 by steve

International“In the current political climate, academic freedom is perhaps the most contested aspect of higher education. As noted often in Inside Higher Education, University World News and other media outlets, the situation seems to be getting worse all over the world …” (more)

[Hans de Wit and Kathryn Hanson, Inside Higher Ed, 7 November]


If you blog, will you lose your job? via @THESISWHISPERER

Posted in Life on June 8th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“One of the joys of working as an educator at third level is the academic freedom that we enjoy. This isn’t a licence to do whatever we like, but in my case it allows me to run a YouTube channel (which I would not have been able to do in my previous job because it would have been in competition with the company’s business), and to blog …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 7 June]

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Martyn Hammersley, ‘Can Academic Freedom be Justified? Reflections on the Arguments of Robert Post and Stanley Fish’

Posted in Legal issues, Research on February 1st, 2016 by steve

UKAbstract: It is widely recognised that academic freedom is currently under threat. But there is also considerable dispute about the meaning of the term. In this paper I examine two recent and important accounts of the nature of academic freedom that seek to distinguish it clearly from free speech. Such a distinction is, in my view, essential. The aim of the paper is to clarify and resolve differences between these two accounts, and thereby to develop further the conceptualisation of academic freedom.

Martyn Hammersley, Can Academic Freedom be Justified? Reflections on the Arguments of Robert Post and Stanley Fish. Higher Education Quarterly, article first published online: 1 February


Managerialism risks destroying our universities, warns IFUT General Secretary

Posted in Governance and administration on May 9th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Huge damage is being done to independence and freedom of decision-making in the University Sector due to the new ‘managerialist’ approach increasingly asserting itself in our universities Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said at the organisations Annual Conference in Dublin …” (more)

[Irish Federation of University Teachers, 9 May]

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