New threats to academic freedom emerge from pandemic

Posted March 13, 2021

A piece by Brendan O’Malley for University World News covering the Academic Freedom Index, developed by SAR and partners.

New threats to academic freedom globally have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to physically distanced teaching, learning and examinations and virtual offerings or remote collaborations online, according to just-published global data and analysis.

Most notable among these are increased opportunities for surveillance of research, teaching and discourse, as well as sanctions, restrictions, self-censorship and isolation, data from the Academic Freedom Index 2020, published on 11 March, shows.

“While this is especially true in repressive countries, online harassment can be experienced anywhere. Even if the coming year will see us emerge from the depths of the pandemic, states, higher education leaders and institutions, funders and advocates alike must remain alert to and guard against an entrenching of such threats to academic inquiry and expression, be they new or old,” say the authors of Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index into action, published by the Global Public Policy Institute and the Scholars at Risk network, also on 11 March.

Read more here.

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