University of Lincoln Research Showcase: Academic Freedom

University of Lincoln Research Showcase: Academic Freedom Academics, through their knowledge,
keep governments, as it were, on their mettle. Academics can question government policy directly. And in that sense academic freedom is a freedom not of the few but for the many, in so far as it encompasses everyone. Professor Terence Karran, Professor of Higher
Education Policy at the University of Lincoln. As part of my research I undertook a comparative
study of the protection of academic freedom, and of its four elements: Freedom to teach, freedom of research, tenure
and also university autonomy in each of the states of the European Union. My findings were that certain particular countries,
interestingly enough ex-Communist countries, protect academic freedom because they rewrote
their consitutions. At the very bottom of the list, unfortunately,
with nil points, was the United Kingdom. And just above that, Denmark. My research was published, then picked up
in the Danish press. As a result, the Danish Education Minister
Helge Sander, came under increased criticism within parliament, for the fact that academic freedom was not
protected in law. The Danish Universities Professional Association
made an appeal to UNESCO. As a result of this, eventually, the Danish
government was forced to have an external evaluation of the law and that evaluation indicated the law shoud
be changed and, finally, the law was indeed changed. The change of law was only slight but it was
nevertheless definitive, in that it indicated that academics should
have much more freedom to determine the areas in which they undertake research. It wasn’t as much as the Danish University
Lecturers Professional Association would have liked. But it was, they admitted, a step in the
correct direction. On the basis of this research, which has now
spanned four different articles, I wrote a very credible bid for funding from
the European Union for a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow. I have a colleague coming from the University
of Ghana, who’s going to spend two years here looking at academic freedom in the African states. In addition, I’ve obtained another grant from
the same source for an intra-European Fellow, who is coming from the University of Munich,
to study academic freedom in Europe. He’ll be looking at the difference between
the de jure and the de facto protection of academic freedom in all the EU states.

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