Academic Freedom Media Review

November 3 – 9, 2018

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.

‘Arbitrary’ visa decisions ‘mortifying’ for UK universities
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 11/09
A British academic has claimed that the Home Office’s unpredictable visa decisions are an embarrassment for the higher education sector, after international students failed to obtain the authorisation to attend a one-week residential course. Janet Grant, director of the Centre for Medical Education in Context (CenMEDIC), which delivers an international distance-learning master’s programme in health professions education, said that 16 overseas students were scheduled to visit the UK for a week earlier this year to prepare for their dissertations. Read more.

Can universities live by their values?
David Matthews, Inside Higher Ed, 11/08
Can you name your university’s values? Do you know if it even has any? Frustration with meaningless lists of institutional virtues — think “openness,” “respect” or “excellence,” perhaps — has boiled over into a global project to get universities to think more seriously about what is important to their staff and students. Read more.

5 academics have their third hearings
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 11/08
Five academics have had their third hearings at three separate courts. Announcing their opinions as to the accusations, two Prosecutor’s Offices at two courts have demanded that two academics be penalized for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization”. Read more.

EU’s biggest grouping puts Hungary’s Orban on notice amid rights concerns
Robin Emmott, Reuters, 11/07
The European Union’s largest political grouping warned Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday that it might consider expelling his Fidesz party from its ranks due to concern over its record on the rule of law and democratic freedoms. The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) backed a special resolution at its annual congress in the Finnish capital Helsinki demanding respect for the values and freedoms that underpin the EU, saying they faced a serious threat. Read more.

Universities should not protect students from ‘uncomfortable’ views by stopping debates, regulator warns
Eleanor Busby, The Independent, 11/07
The higher education regulator has criticised universities for shutting down alternative points of views on campus to make students feel “comfortable”. Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students (OfS), has called on universities in the UK not to avoid certain debates in seminars and lectures to “protect students” from difficult ideas. Read more.

A specter of dictatorship in Brazil
Anna More, NACLA, 11/05
Little more than three decades after the end of dictatorship, Jair Bolsonaro’s win in the Brazilian elections forebodes a crackdown on democratic institutions from the university to the press to the judiciary. Read more.

Activist Shoma Sen’s bail plea rejected
Shoumojit Banerjee, The Hindu, 11/02*
A special court here rejected the bail plea of Nagpur University Professor Shoma Sen, who was arrested along with four other activists by the Pune police on June 6 for their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their roles in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ and subsequent the Bhima-Koregaon clashes. The order rejecting Ms. Sen’s bail application noted that the material collected by the investigating officer prima facie revealed her involvement in alleged unlawful activities inimical to the country’s security and that the investigation against the accused and other activists was at a very crucial stage. Read more.

*Not featured in the November 2nd edition of the Academic Freedom Media Review.