Academic Freedom Media Review

August 27 – September 2, 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.


AFGHANISTAN: Taliban takes over HE, rule threatens women’s education
Shadi Khan Saif, University World News, 9/2
Following the departure of United States troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have appointed a new acting higher education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani. He stated that Afghanistan’s higher education would turn to include more “Islamic, national and historical values,” but would also be able to compete with global universities. Read more.


SINGAPORE / UNITED STATES: Students, faculty angry over closure of Yale-NUS College
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 9/1
Yale University faculty, alumni, and students were angered to hear that the National University of Singapore (NUS) was ending its close partnership with Yale University and permanently shutting down the autonomous Yale-NUS liberal arts college. Yale President Peter Salovey said that the university “would have liked” to continue the program’s development. Read more.


AFGHANISTAN / GLOBAL: The global research community must not abandon Afghanistan
Nature, 9/1
Following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul on August 15, many of the country’s researchers and academics have become especially vulnerable, given the Taliban’s history with systematic human rights violations, particularly against girls, women, and minority communities. Read more.


IRAN: Videos show mistreatment in Tehran’s Evin Prison
Shabnam von Hein, Deutsche-Welle, 9/1
Videos obtained by hackers show the inside of Iran’s Evin prison and the treatment of prisoners. One video shows several prison guards kicking and hitting a prisoner on the head. The videos back up reports that surfaced regarding the treatment of Niloufar Bayani, a wrongly imprisoned environmental activist, who described being mentally and physically tortured at the prison. Read more.


AFGHANISTAN / UNITED STATES: American University of Afghanistan students and relatives trying to flee were sent home.
Farnaz Fassihi, The New York Times, 8/29
The American University of Afghanistan sent an email to students on their way to the Kabul airport that there would be no more rescue flights. Students, relatives, and staff waited for clearance at the airport for seven hours before evacuations were called off. Read more.


AFGHANISTAN: Fear and distrust despite Taliban pledges on women’s HE
Shadi Khan Saif and Ameen Amjad Khan, University World News, 8/27
Afghan women and girls face an uncertain future in education after the Taliban took over the country. Since August 15, students have been unable to resume their studies. The Taliban also issued a ban on co-education in the country’s Herat province. Read more.


VENEZUELA: CNU intends to make universities “centers of ideologization at the service of the current government”
El Nacional, 8/29
The Central University of Venezuela expressed its disagreement with Venezuela’s National Council of Universities’ approval of the government’s “National Regulation of Multimodal Systems of University Education,” which the university says “flagrantly violates the National Constitution and the University Law.” Read more.


CHINA: Chinese university appears to ask for lists of LGBTQ+ students for ‘investigation’
Vincent Ni and Helen Davidson, The Guardian, 8/28
Shanghai University has asked its colleges to make lists of their LGBTQ+ students and report on their “state of mind”, according to an internal directive published online. The move sparked alarm among young students after crackdowns on LGBTQ+ campus groups. Read more.