Resolution on: Academic Freedom in Higher Education

published 23 September 2019 updated 23 September 2019

The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress, meeting in Bangkok, Thailand from 21st to 26th July 2019:

(1) Affirms the critical importance of academic freedom for advancing and disseminating knowledge, fostering independent thinking and expression, strengthening democracy, and contributing to the common good of societies;

(2) Recalls that the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel and the UNESCO Recommendation from 1974, amended in 2017, on Science and Scientific Researchers define academic freedom as the right of all academic and research staff, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to:

(i) freedom of teaching and discussion;(ii) freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof;(iii) freedom to express their opinion about the institution or system in which they work;(iv) freedom from institutional censorship; and,

(v) freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies;

(3) Asserts that higher education teaching personnel and researchers should also enjoy, without interference, internationally recognised civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens;

(4) Welcomes Education International’s research and advocacy around the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation;

(5) Notes the many threats to academic freedom today including state interference and repression, and pressures arising from commercialisation, privatisation, and managerialism;

(6) Further notes that casualisation of employment amongst higher education and research personnel is undermining tenure or its functional equivalent as a necessary procedural safeguard for the exercise and protection of academic freedom.

(7) Congress mandates the EI Executive Board to:

(i) Monitor and publicise threats to and violations of academic freedom.

(ii) Organise campaigns to disseminate the UNESO recommendation of 1997 and to defend higher education and research personnel whose academic freedom is threatened or violated;

(iii) Assist affiliates with monitoring the implementation of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation and with presenting allegations to the Joint ILO-UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART);

(iv) Lobby the ILO and UNESCO to provide more resources to CEART so that it can better promote awareness of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation, increase the frequency of its meetings, and expand its capacity to receive and consider complaints;

(v) Facilitate regional dialogues amongst affiliates and stakeholders on academic freedom, privatisation, and the conditions facing casualised higher education and research personnel.