In Much of the World, Academic Freedom Is a Value for Which Faculty, Students, and Administrators Are Suffering and Dying

The AAUP focuses on academic freedom issues within the United States. Scholars at Risk, an organization based at New York University, focuses on attacks on academic freedom elsewhere in the world—most of which involve actual physical attacks.

According to Free to Think, a new report issued by Scholars at Risk as part of its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, “violent attacks on higher education students, staff and institutions around the world are occurring with ‘alarming frequency.’” The report “documents 485 killings in 18 countries in the past four and a half years.”

Its authors have drawn upon “data collected between January 2011 and May 2015 and [they cite] 333 attacks arising from 247 verified incidents in 65 countries. However, . . . the data reflects ‘only a small subset of all attacks on higher education during that time,’ due to the limited resources available to monitor such attacks.”

“The 333 [cited] attacks include:

111 incidents of killings, violence and disappearances;

47 cases of wrongful prosecution and 67 cases of imprisonment;

37 cases of loss of position or expulsion from study;

12 cases of improper travel restrictions;

59 cases of other severe or systemic issues.”

Indeed, as Brendan O’Malley notes in an article on the report written for University World News (from which the preceding quotations have also been taken), “an interesting finding below the headline figures is the extent to which state authorities, even in non-conflict countries, are using violence, imprisonment, and lower levels of intimidation to put pressure on students and academics in order to silence alternative points of view. Many of these go under the radar of international media attention but collectively stymie the legitimate work of universities as places where plurality of view and critical thinking are encouraged in order to widen and deepen knowledge to the benefit of all.”


The full report is available at:

And Brendan O’Malley’s full article, “Where Academics Are Hounded as Enemies of the State,” is available at:



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