28.4.2015 12.49

Survey on academic freedom

Brussels, 24 April 2015
Survey on academic freedom
Academic freedom is a universal right that all staff working in higher education acknowledges being an essential component of academic life, both as an individual liberty with respect to their teaching and research duties, and in terms of institutional autonomy and governance. At institutional level, the right of universities to self-governance and autonomy, with freedom from governmental control over decisions about what should be taught and researched, is seen as vital for their successful working.
However, in many nations, the de jure constitutional and legislative protection for academic freedom is either limited or not well defined. Consequently, institutional policies and norms, allied to departmental culture, are often as important in providing de facto protection for the academic freedom of staff, as legal instruments. All research so far completed into academic freedom concentrates on legal frameworks, and as yet no empirical work has been undertaken on the de facto protection for, and staff experiences of, academic freedom and institutional autonomy in higher education in the EU states, and elsewhere. Consequently, in order to analyse the extent, character and strength of extra-legal informal protection for academic freedom, which operates via institutional and departmental norms, academics at Lincoln University in the UK have devised an online survey to gather data on the knowledge, experience and opinions of academic staff with regards to academic freedom. This survey can be accessed by going to the webpages at:
In English - https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AcademicFreedomSurvey
The survey only takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, and participants have the opportunity to enter a prize draw and win one of three Apple iPads. By completing this on-line survey, the opinions on academic freedom of higher education staff within your organisation will find a voice, and contribute directly to the important debate on academic freedom within contemporary higher education, at a time when the future role and purpose of universities is being widely debated. Failure to nurture the concept of academic freedom within universities, more especially in those European nations which first promulgated this basic right, threatens to undermine this, and other basic associated human rights, both within Europe and, by imitation, in other nation states where they are already considerably fragile. Such liberties, once lost, will be infinitely more difficult to reinstate than they were to achieve in the first place.

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