Whatever Happened to Academic Freedom?

Thoughts on the relation between academic freedom and academic standards.

Academic Irregularities

Paul Greatrix, writing on the Wonkhe blog on July 14th 2015, includes an account of how, as recently as the 1980s in the UK, autonomy, academic freedom and academic standards were thought to be inextricably linked.

In the blog piece, he quotes two key higher education reports: on efficiency (The Jarratt Report 1985), and on degree validation (The Lindop Report 1985). Both contain appeals to academic freedom.

  • “The most reliable safeguard of standards is not external validation or any other outside control; it is the growth of the teaching institution as a self-critical academic community’. (The Lindop Report 1985, p6)
  • “Academic excellence is crucially dependent on academic freedom” (Jarratt Report 1985, p6).

Academic freedom, then, is an issue of academic standards. What has changed, in the 30-year interim, except the infiltration of neoliberalism and managerialism? Why does each new report on governance, standards and ‘quality’ in higher education…

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1 Response to Whatever Happened to Academic Freedom?

  1. Pingback: Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week | Progressive Geographies

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