Remove restrictions

April 6, 2007

The assumption behind the argument of the vice-chancellor and the pro chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University (Letters, March 23) is that the restrictions on academic freedom enshrined in the university's articles of governance have no force.

If this is true, the obvious course of action is to remove them. They felt their case for the vacuity of the restrictions was proven by my not providing concrete examples of suppression of academic freedom.

But while the restriction remains it is always possible that disciplinary action will be taken against someone in the future.

In any case, moving the debate on to such grounds is an attempt to avoid the issue of their attitude to the principle that is essential in a university: that academic freedom should not be restricted.

Restrictions on academic freedom encourage self-censorship, the comforts of conformity, and the informal suppression of open debate and of certain research by managers.

It is criticism in the corridor and the quiet word in the ear that ensure compliance rather than the disciplinary hearing. This goes on, and who knows whether it is a direct result of the restrictions in the article, or not? To this question there is a solution. Remove the restriction.

Dennis Hayes.
Canterbury Christ Church University

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