Academic Freedom Media Review

November 2 – 8, 2019

Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements.  Scholars at Risk identifies situations of concern on its own and welcomes reports submitted by faculty, students and volunteers at participating higher education institutions.

Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the reports below 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. Subscribe to SAR’s media review.

Hong Kong student who suffered severe brain injury after car park fall has died
Alvin Lum, South China Morning Post, 11/08
A university student who suffered a severe brain injury after he fell from a car park early on Monday near an area of confrontation between protesters and police died on Friday morning. Chow Tsz-lok, a second year computer science undergraduate at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, reportedly fell from the third floor to the second floor of a car park in Tseung Kwan O, while police carried out a dispersal operation nearby with rounds of tear gas fired. Read more.

The Chinese government cannot be allowed to undermine academic freedom
Sophie Richardson, The Nation, 11/08
A few years ago, I met a student from rural China who had come to a university in Washington, DC, and fallen in love with political science. But he was too afraid of being reported to the Chinese embassy to pursue the subject. While Americans take freedom at universities for granted, for some students from China the feeling is very different. Read more.

A professor’s year teaching in Saudi Arabia was a nightmare. Should an American college have stepped in?
Michael Vasquez, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/06
Marwa Mohsen knew she was taking a chance when she left England for a job in Saudi Arabia.
The relocation meant that Mohsen, a marketing professor, would be teaching courses in a country where women are often treated as second-class citizens. And the job was at the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship, a brand new institution with no track record. But there were two words that put her at ease: Babson College. Read more.

Analysis: Indonesian policymaking is not supported by quality research and academic freedom
Inaya Rakhmani and Zulfa Sakhiyya, The Conversation, 11/06
To succeed in delivering programs that help eliminate poverty, ensure people are fed nutritious food, have quality education, are resilient to natural disasters and respectful of diversity, among others, the government must base policies on academically sound evidence. But our study, shows Indonesian policymaking is predominantly informed by research with poor theoretical engagement, with no strong tradition of peer review and with legal threats to academic freedom. Read more.

College ranking metrics should include academic freedom
Mohan J. Dutta, Richard Ashford and Shampa Biswas, Inside Higher Ed, 11/06
Does the standing of your college or university have anything to do with the state of academic freedom on your campus? The global ascendance of the metrics industry — which is primarily based on the collection and aggregation of data to create rankings — has increasingly led to conditions where select performance indicators drive college and university administrators’ decisions and actions. Yet those indicators are systematically disengaged from the question of academic freedom, the foundational cornerstone of college life. Read more.

How should universities respond to China’s growing presence on their campuses?
ChinaFile, 11/04
How should universities encourage respectful dialogue on contentious issues involving China, while at the same time fostering an environment free of intimidation, harassment, and violence? And how should university administrators and governments involve themselves in this process? Read more.

Uganda: Security forces attack students, journalists
Human Rights Watch, 11/04
The Ugandan police and military have cracked down on student protests over fee increases at Makerere University in Kampala on multiple occasions since October 22, 2019. The security forces have fired teargas into student residences, raided dormitories, and beaten and arrested students, detaining dozens for days without charge. Read more.