Freedom fighters

March 18, 2005

Stephen Court raises interesting questions on academic freedom ("Why I think universities must fight harder for academic freedom", March 4).

Of course, the Government has a central role to play, but will it fulfil its obligations? It is arguably in violation of Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, which relates to the right to education including academic freedom and which the UK signed and ratified in 1976.

Full academic freedom, as defined by Unesco, requires, among other things, tenure for academic staff "as one of the major procedural safeguards of academic freedom", also the right of academics to benefit from the creation of their intellectual property, the right to be paid "comparable salaries to those in occupations requiring similar or equivalent qualification" and the right to participate in collegial decisionmaking as the majority elected voice on the academic bodies of our institutions. By any measure, we have a long way to go. The problem is that the tide is very much flowing in the opposite direction.

Gavin Reid.
Leeds University

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