More on the Subject of Academic Freedom

In the Times Higher Education, this from a month back-

More than 30 years ago, Index on Censorship published a special issue on academic freedom titled “Scholarship and its enemies”. It included a report on the persecution of scientists in the Soviet Union, an article about the harassment of scholars in Czechoslovakia, a feature detailing how Bantu education in South Africa politicised black students and an account of university education in Libya under the rule of Mu’ammer Gaddafi.

Since those once monolithic regimes have now fallen, it is ironic that the article that has dated the least and is even prophetic in its vision of the future is a portrait of the threat to universities in the UK written back in 1981. Anthony Arblaster and Steven Lukes warned that academia, and the freedom of scholars, “is under constant and growing pressure from its paymasters, the local education authorities and, above all, central government. The general tendency of these pressures is towards a crude and debased utilitarianism which sees education as an industry, or a production line whose purpose is to ‘turn out’ persons equipped with the various kinds of skills which the economy and current employment opportunities require”.

It’s a topic that’s still relevant.  Especially now.

2 thoughts on “More on the Subject of Academic Freedom

  1. On the other hand they also have a obligation towards the tax payers, colleagues and some, actually few, are abusing this to the nth degree. With tenure there is nothing one can do and colleagues are likewise silent towards these abuses, particularly in the world the scrolls and other artifacts, which are being looted, forged, sold, as if they were potatoes and nary a critical public word from scholars.


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