SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: August 13, 2014

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):University of Macau

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | Macao 

New or Ongoing:New Incident

The University of Macau has reportedly refused to renewal the contract of Bill Chou Kwok-ping, a professor of political science, in retaliation for his political activism.

Professor Chou has long been an outspoken advocate of democratic reforms in the region, having publicly criticized government policies toward the media and participated in protests in support of increased press freedom and universal suffrage.  He was recently elected vice president of the New Macau Association, a leading pro-democracy organization.

The university reportedly began a disciplinary investigation of Professor Chou in November 2013, and in June 2014, suspended him for 24 days without pay on grounds of “imposing his political beliefs” on students, as well as failing to provide different perspectives in class and discriminating against students. According to Professor Chou, university officials informed him on August 13, 2014, that his contract was not being renewed.  Although the university did not provide him with a reason for its decision, Professor Chou has indicated that the non-renewal of his contract was a result of his political activism, and not his job performance.  Professor Chou indicated that a strong teaching record earned him a promotion to assistant professor in 2011.

University officials have denied that their decision was motivated by Professor Chou’s activism, and that his termination was consistent with relevant regulations and procedures.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about allegations of the dismissal of an academic in retaliation for the content of his academic work or peaceful exercise of the right of free expression. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with academic freedom or expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Retaliatory discharge aimed at limiting such expressive activity harms academic freedom and related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.