Academic Freedom Media Review

July 23 – 29, 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.

 CHINA / HONG KONG: Hong Kong gets to grips with security law’s ‘invisible red line’
Joyce Lau, Times Higher Education, 7/28
Hong Kong experts told THE that the city was entering a “new era” of strains on academic freedom under Beijing’s National Security Law. Academics cite difficulty teaching, researching, and debating on controversial subjects under the law. Read more.

UNITED STATES: Nebraska’s Critical Race Theory Debate
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 7/28
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts publicly called on the state university system’s Board of Regents to pass a resolution against the teaching of critical race theory. The resolution the governor referenced on Twitter states that critical race theory doesn’t promote “inclusive and honest dialogue” and its proponents “disparage important American ideals.” Read more.

VENEZUELA: IACHR expressed concern about the situation of university autonomy in Venezuela [SPANISH]
El Nacional, 7/27
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern about what it deemed a “deterioration of university autonomy” in Venezula. IACHR cited the payment of university employees through the government’s ‘Sistema Patria’ and significant budget reducations as undermining universities’ academic freedom. Read more.

UNITED STATES: ‘A Renewed U.S. Commitment to International Education’
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 7/27
The U.S. Departments of Education and State issued a joint statement expressing a commitment and coordinated national approach to international education, including hosting international students in the United States, sending American students abroad, and participating in research collaboration. Read more.

TURKEY: Rare victory for Turkish scholars as protests force rector’s exit
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 7/27
After six months of student and faculty protest, president-appointed Boğaziçi University rector Melih Bulu was fired, a rare victory for university autonomy. Boğaziçi campaigners hope that the victory against President Erdoğan’s increasingly autocratic government will inspire other universities across Turkey to stand up to infringements on university autonomy. Read more.

CHINA / HONG KONG: At least 3 Hong Kong universities make national security education compulsory for students
Chan Ho-him, South China Morning Post, 7/26
Hong Kong Baptist University, Polytechnic University, and Lingnan University have all announced plans for required seminars, talks, or courses in national security education. Baptist announced that international students will also be required to participate. Read more.

IRAN: Iranian State TV Re-Airs Jailed Scientist’s Forced Confession
Daniel Keyvanfer, IranWire, 7/26
On the evening of July 23, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s Channel 5 aired a documentary, The Spy Academy, which featured a previously-aired, forced confession of wrongfully imprisoned Swedish-Iranian scholar Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, prompting concern over the scholar’s health and his status on death row. Read more.

CHINA / UNITED STATES: China Initiative Cases Dismissed
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 7/26
The United States federal government dismissed five charges against Chinese researchers accused of lying about their affiliations or funding from China on federal grant applications, visa applications, and tax forms. The charges were brought as a part of the Trump administration’s “China Initiative” to investigate espionage and trade secret theft from China. Read more.

INDIA: Government attacks on academic freedom are mounting
Mukhtar Ahmad, University World News, 7/24
Academic freedom is being threatened in India, where the government has repeatedly taken actions that deny the institutional autonomy of the country’s higher education institutions through coercive measures. Read more.

MYANMAR: Exiled government establishes alternative HE programmes
Nilar Aung Myint, University World News, 7/24
The exiled National Unity Government in Myanmar has established an Interim Advanced Education initiative following the February military coup. The initiative, established in June, seeks to address the gaps in higher education resulting from 18-month university and college closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unsafe conditions following the coup. Read more.