The freedom code

May 20, 2010

Your article "'Freedom to say anything to anyone' is not what we need" (6 May) failed to recognise the centrality of academic freedom to lecturers' roles as professionals, their contracts of employment and how they work within the academic community.

The definition offered in the 1988 Education Act may require updating, but its core principle should remain the foundation of academic freedom. At a time when the government appears to privilege certain forms of research over others, when companies insert terms into contracts that curtail the right of researchers to publish their findings, and when universities attempt to tighten control over intellectual property, academic freedom must be defended.

This right should encompass the ability to speak out against management decisions and express unpopular views without fear of reprisal. Codes of behaviour protecting staff when they "whistle-blow" and statutes that identify their rights of free speech must be enacted. In short, academic freedom must be broadened and strengthened.

Ron Mendel, Branch secretary, University and College Union, University of Northampton.

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