Academic Freedom Media Review

June 4 – 10, 2021

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.

UNITED STATES: Legislating Against Critical Race Theory
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 6/9
Sixteen states have introduced or passed bills limiting the ability to teach critical race theory in public institutions, including at the university level. University faculty members believe this is a form of state-sanctioned censorship. Read more.

IRELAND: Grade inflation undermining quality of university degrees, President Higgins warns
Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times, 6/8
In an online conference organized by Scholars at Risk Ireland and the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins warned of grade inflation as a sign of pressure on universities to “report the achievement of continually higher ‘outputs’.” Read more.

UNITED STATES: Black female professors voice solidarity with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones in UNC tenure showdown
Nick Anderson and Joe Heim, The Washington Post, 6/8
Trevy McDonald, the first and only Black woman with tenure at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, has come out criticizing UNC for not awarding tenure to award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is Black, and believes the decision is “very clearly…an equity issue.” Read more.

UNITED STATES / CHINA: Trial Begins for Professor Accused of Hiding Ties to China
Associated Press via Voice of America, 6/7
A jury trial began against Anming Hu, an associate professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering at the University of Tennessee, who prosecutors accuse of defrauding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for failing to disclose that he was also a professor at the Beijing University of Technology, among other charges. Read more.

CHINA / HONG KONG: How Academic Freedom Ends
Timothy McLaughlin, The Atlantic, 6/6
Beijing’s National Security Law has led to growing worries amongst Hong Kong’s higher education community, including those over academic freedom, self-censorship, staff recruitment, and students’ and faculties’ rights. University administrators have done little to support faculty and students when targeted by the law. Read more.

HUNGARY / CHINA: Hungarians protest against planned Chinese university campus
Anita Komuves, Reuters, 6/6
Hungarians gathered to protest the announcement of China’s Fudan University plans to open a campus in Budapest. Opponents fear that the move could help Beijing increase its influence in the country and degrade the quality of higher education. Read more.

FIJI: University of the South Pacific Resolution hits another snag
John Ross, Times Higher Education, 6/7
The University of the South Pacific has granted ousted vice-chancellor Pal Ahluwalia a new contract after he was deported from Fiji in February. Professor Ahluwalia is authorized to run the university from the Samoa campus. Read more.

EGYPT: Egypt Academics, Researchers Caught In State Crosshairs
Farid Farid, Barron’s, 6/5
Egypt’s academic freedom has narrowed significantly since 2014, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office, as the state attempts to stifle any research or academic speech contradictory to the state’s narrative. Several Egyptian academics have been detained in relation to their scholarly pursuits. Read more.

PAKISTAN: Outrage as police assault lecturers protesting against deep pay cuts
Ameen Amjad Khan, University World News, 6/4
Academics across the globe expressed outrage at the Pakistani police’s use of force, including beatings, against protesting university professors. Professors were protesting against government-imposed pay cuts related to COVID-19 shutdowns. Read more.

UNITED STATES / CHINA: Is a Partnership in China Consistent With Cornell’s Values?
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 6/3
Cornell University approved plans for a partnership with Beijing’s Peking University despite a vote by Cornell’s Faculty Senate and Student Assembly opposing the partnership over academic freedom concerns. Read more.