Under-fire academic heads East for freedom

July 21, 2006

The London School of Economics academic reprimanded for telling students at an open day that they might be better off studying at London Metropolitan University has left the institution in protest.

Erik Ringmar, a senior lecturer in government who had worked at the LSE since 1995, condemned the institution for espousing the virtues of academic freedom in public but threatening them in private.

Dr Ringmar has started a new life in Taiwan - and from February 2007 will be professor at the National Chiao Tung University. He branded the LSE a "hypocritical institution that doesn't stand up for the principles it claims to defend".

Speaking from Taiwan, he said: "The LSE's statutes explicitly incorporate the United Nations principle of freedom of expression - indeed the LSE rules make it a 'serious offence' to deprive someone of their freedom of expression, yet I was threatened and intimidated for speaking my mind."

Dr Ringmar told prospective students that PhD students would teach most undergraduate courses but stressed that the LSE's intellectual calibre, multicultural environment and calibre of students were second to none.

He was ordered to apologise and take down the blog in which he had posted his open day speech. Dr Ringmar, who is writing a book about freedom of speech in the age of the internet, refused and appealed to LSE director, Sir Howard Davies, on the grounds of freedom of speech.

A spokeswoman for the LSE said: "Some months ago, Dr Ringmar said he was planning to be away for an extended period of leave and we will respect any decision he may wish to make."

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