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academic freedom
Interview conducted by Sean McMahon Academic staff do the work that defines a university: teaching, scholarship and research. But too often in British universities the voices of academics are marginalised by undemocratic forms of governance. Top-down, unaccountable, corporate-style management has increasingly replaced collegial decision-making, stifling the autonomy of academics and impeding rather than facilitating academic...
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Words by Dr Heather McKnight, founder of the social enterprise Magnetic Ideals and Doctor of Legal Studies. In 1970, the Commission on Academic Freedom and the Law (CAFL) released research exposing changes in how universities were using the law: a discontinuity that both marked and reflected the historical moment. The joint commission between the National...
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The Council for the Defence of British Universities is pleased to publish its position paper on Academic Freedom brought together by three executive committee members: Dr Kelli Rudolph, Professor Susan Bruce and Professor John Holmwood. The paper articulates the nature and importance of academic freedom as a public good and highlights the challenges it currently...
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PRESS RELEASE: JULY 6, 2021   The Council for the Defence of British Universities is pleased to publish its position paper on Academic Freedom brought together by three executive committee members: Dr Kelli Rudolph, Professor Susan Bruce and Professor John Holmwood. The paper articulates the nature and importance of academic freedom as a public good...
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Words by Liz Morrish, independent scholar.  In August 2020, the UK think tank The Policy Exchange produced a report on Academic Freedom in the UK, alleging a chilling effect for staff and students expressing conservative opinions, particularly pro-Brexit or ‘gender critical’ ideas. This is an issue that was examined by a 2018 parliamentary committee on...
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Words by Andrew M Colman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Leicester. The UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, wrote to universities in October 2020 directing them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism by Christmas, and warning that any universities refusing to comply could face cuts in funding. Only...
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Words by Eric Lybeck, Presidential Academic Fellow at the Manchester Institute of Education. Yesterday, Policy Exchange published a report on academic freedom in British universities drawing on a flawed survey with inconclusive results. This did not stop major newspapers from declaring the report evidence of the “epidemic of left-wing bias” in academia. Equally, it is...
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Guest blog by G.R.Evans Rudd forced to rethink work visa plans for foreign students (The Times, 23 November), ‘Vice-chancellors warn there could be a legal challenge if metrics designed to assess teaching quality were used for immigration purposes.’ The article had attracted 76 online comments by the next morning.  The Home Secretary had had the...
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No 4 in a series of Guest posts by G. R. Evans The problem-areas flagged up here are technical but they are also of fundamental importance to academics because they affect academic freedom and the institutional autonomy of providers of higher education. These are topics which have repeatedly engaged Members of Parliament and peers in...
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Opinion piece by Howard Hotson The new counter-terrorism bill emerging from the Home Office late in 2014 includes a significant piece of ad hoc university legislation: the requirement that universities ban ‘extremists’ from speaking on campus. This proposed legislation seems at first sight completely unconnected to the ‘radical reform’ of higher education funding which issued...
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