Under attack: Academic freedoms in Asia

On 21 April, the Asia Centre, the Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies and Scholars at Risk Sweden at Lund University, in partnership with Empowering Freedom Defenders in East and Southeast Asia and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, co-convened a webinar titled “Under Attack: Academic Freedoms in Asia”.

The event examined infringements on academic freedom and what can be done to better protect and promote academic freedom for scholars and students in East, South and Southeast Asia.

Around the world, academic freedom is increasingly coming under attack. The core value of academic freedom and what it means for society at large is also gaining more attention. For scholars and students, it means not only the freedom to research and teach but freedom of academic exchange.

The Academic Freedom Index (2020) lists also institutional autonomy, campus integrity, and freedom of academic and cultural expression as key elements to the realisation of academic freedom.

In the index, which covers 175 countries, the Asian region fares relatively badly with Thailand, China and Laos ending up in the lowest level (E). Countries that are higher ranked, like Indonesia, however also experience real threats such as censorship and bans on controversial topics at universities.

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