Academic freedom "under pressure in EU"

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Professor Peter Maassen, lead author of the European Parliament Academic Freedom Monitor 2023 report, has said “it is worrying that recent studies undertaken for the European Parliament Academic Freedom Monitor show that academic freedom is under pressure in many EU Member States” in comment published today ahead of a key public discussion on academic freedom.   

In the article for Frontiers Policy Labs, Professor Maassen, Department of Education, University of Oslo, warns: “Threats to academic freedom are increasingly identified and are argued to come from various sides at the same time. Overall, there are growing worries in the EU about undue interference from the government and politics in academic freedom, about actions and decisions by university leadership and management potentially violating academic freedom, about internal conflicts and tensions among academic staff and students pressuring academic freedom.

"Furthermore, attacks by civil society actors on individual academics or academic groups, especially through social media, have grown in most EU Member States, forming a serious threat to academic freedom. In addition, the impact of private sector actors on academic freedom remains an issue in many EU Member States, while an emerging worry is how governmental security policies might affect academic freedom. This coincides with worries about the threat to academic freedom of foreign interferences in academia in Europe.”  

Maassen puts forward several options for tackling threats to academic freedom, including establishing a European Platform for Academic Freedom, ahead of the Frontiers Policy Labs webinar “Powering Academic Freedom - Essential Insights for Policy Makers”. Chaired by Professor Robert-Jan Smits, former Director-General of DG Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission, now President of the Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology, influential speakers from across Europe will discuss Academic Freedom from various perspectives.

Confirmed speakers include:    

  • Professor Dr. Robert-Jan Smits, President, Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands (Chair)   

  • Professor Dr. Peter Maassen, Professor in Higher Education Studies, Department of Education, University of Oslo (UiO), Norway  

  • Professor Dr. Antoine Petit, Chairman and CEO, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France   

  • Professor Dr. Andrea Petö, Central European University (CEU), Austria; CEU Democracy Institute, Hungary  

  • Marcus Scheuren, Head of Unit of the STOA Secretariat, European Parliamentary Research Service, EU.  

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