Academic Freedom Monitoring Project

Posted April 15, 2016

SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project focuses on developing a greater understanding of the volume and nature of attacks on higher education communities in order to develop more effective protection responses.

The Monitoring Project aims to identify, assess and track incidents involving one or more of six defined types of conduct which may constitute violations of academic freedom and/or the human rights of members of higher education communities:

  • Killings/violence/disappearances
  • Wrongful imprisonment/detention
  • Wrongful prosecution
  • Restrictions on travel or movement 
  • Retaliatory discharge/loss of position/expulsion from study
  • Other significant events

Incident reports are produced by a network of higher education and human rights professionals—including faculty-led graduate student clinics at SAR member institutions—serving as volunteer monitors for specific countries or regions. Researchers identify incidents of attacks on higher education systems, institutions or personnel and record the details of each incident, analyzing each incident and attaching corroborating primary and secondary source material when possible. SAR processes, verifies and consolidates reports of incidents for distribution and the mobilization of advocacy responses.

SAR invites members of the higher education community, human rights organizations, and civil society to support the monitoring project by notifying us of incidents, joining the project as volunteer researchers, or coordinating an academic freedom clinic for law students (see below for further information). Have any questions? Contact us at

View Recent Monitoring Reports

View Frequently Asked Questions

View the Methodology 

Notifying SAR of attacks on higher education: SAR invites individuals aware of an attack on higher education or academic freedom to submit information by emailing with a brief description of the incident and links to relevant sources. Before submitting information, we ask that you first review SAR’s methodology to ensure that the incident matches at least one of SAR’s six types of attacks. SAR will review each submission for reportability and will only issue reports on incidents that are backed by sufficient evidence and that fit within SAR’s methodology. Please note that we are unable to respond to each submission.

Joining the Monitoring Project: SAR invites interested scholars, students, human rights professionals, and journalists with regional or thematic expertise to join the Monitoring Project as volunteer researchers. Volunteers may notify SAR of incidents in regions with which they are familiar, draft and submit reports on incidents, advise SAR staff on questions regarding particular element of an incident (e.g. legal system, higher education policy and norms, political developments, etc.), translate source materials, and recommend responses to incidents. Those interested in joining the Monitoring Project as a volunteer researcher should email Those interested in one-off submissions of information about potential incidents should see the above.

Advising an Academic Freedom Legal Clinic: SAR invites law faculty to develop a legal clinic at their campus through which students investigate attacks on higher education for SAR’s Monitoring Project, conduct legal analysis at the local, regional or international level, and develop advocacy responses to particular attacks. Learn more here.