Posted: September 23rd, 2020
Academic freedom grants and protects the freedom of the academic community from being interfered with. Outsiders view academic freedom with suspicion since there is a common understanding on the matter. This freedom covers research projects and teaching in higher learning institutions. It allows space for development, growth, advanced research on the issues affecting society. However, for a long time, there has been an interference with this freedom. There is also a lack of proper communication which causes interference between management and the rest of the institution. Thus negatively affecting students, staff, and other members of the fraternity, making them have a hard time carrying out their duties concerning the institution. One issue affecting academic freedom to a considerable extent is the dominant funding sources for higher learning institutions. Funding gives the donors the power to control the institution and thus their work as well. This paper seeks to academic freedom is affected whether positively by dominant funding sources.
Academic freedom addresses faculty rights and responsibilities within and outside the organization. This issue applies to people in private and public institutions, and it is not a professional matter but a related legal principle. Institutions of higher learning are responsible for carrying out original research. In the declaration act of 1915 emphasizes on academic independence as a profession1. The argument was that education is the society’s cornerstone and play a huge role in scientific knowledge which is essential to humankind. People outside these institutions have viewed academic freedom differently, thus creating limitations in the issue. This issue does not only require freedom from restraint by the government but also ensuring nothing disrupts this freedom. In general terms, academic freedom includes the faculty being able to express themselves on academic issues, institutional issues and policies, and matters related to public interest generally. When it comes to funding academic institutions, this changes the sources have a massive effect on the freedom of the academic world.
One impact created by dominant funding sources is the freedom of research-related issues. Academic freedom involves freedom to choose research topics, methods used, and references to be used. But as noted, the faculty is rarely involved in the management and thus, the funding sources direct research-related issues. This act takes away the academic freedom due to lack of involvement and lack of proper communication2. Political authorities and other bodies that fund the institutions thus decide research topics, they limit the methods and also direct the sources to be used. Since they have the power, they do not have to do this directly. In some cases, the funding sources may deny funds for a given project and favour another, reject a research proposal or even modify them. This control has denied researchers the chance to carry out their research ideas freely as required.
This also takes place in teaching where the sources used are limited to funders’ requirements. Academic freedom, in this case, is limited by sanctions, and limitations which are put in place for the school to continue accessing the funds. These measures put the faculty under pressure, and they operate under fear. The measures put in site limit innovation and inventions since the process of teaching is limited to one particular method. These matters have much challenged academic freedom since external sources determine set teaching standards and set priorities without involving the faculty members who are on the ground3.
Another impact is the relationship between higher learning institutions and the state. The mode of control overs institutions has become more direct. However, they do so from a distance and do not consider institutional differences. Thus academic freedom has been disrupted over time, leading to low levels of accountability4. Despite the direct-distant governance approach, there is still poor communication between the faculty and management. This issue has also affected performance and made the institutions more dependent when it comes to teaching and research. Improving communications would enhance both performance and accountability in institutions.
Finally, there is the pressure caused by expectations of those funding these institutions. The society at large has high expectations of higher learning institutions when it comes to research, training and serving the community. These institutions feel the pressure of innovation, economy, social progress and, provision of qualified personnel to firms. These institutions are often questioned on how their relevance of research and teaching serve the current economic needs5. This pressure is most cases come from families, external stakeholders, firms, and government agencies. Thus institutions tend to focus more on satisfying demands than trying to engage in research and teaching voluntarily.
In conclusion, academic freedom is the freedom to explore all avenues in the classroom, research, institutional matters and other issues outside the institution. According to intellectual rights, all higher institutions should be able to exercise this. However, this has not been the case due to impacts on academic institutions by dominant sources of funding. As discussed, some of the effects are; influence on researches to be conducted, teaching, the relationship between the institution and state, and pressure on higher learning institutions. These issues have had a massive negative effect on academic freedom.
Macfarlane, Bruce. Freedom to Learn: The threat to student academic freedom and why it needs to be reclaimed. Oxfordshire: Taylor & Francis, 2016.
Post, Robert. “Academic Freedom and the Constitution.” Who’s Afraid of Academic Freedom? 2015, 123-152. doi:10.7312/columbia/9780231168809.003.0008.
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