Congratulations to our Lord and Lady MacNair Early Career Fellow in Law, Dr. Aradhana Cherupara Vadekkethil, on co-authoring an important new policy submission on academic freedom in educational institutions across South-Africa, India and Australia.
The policy submission in question has been presented to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Ms. Farida Shaheed, who will be considering academic freedom and freedom of expression in her upcoming report to the Human Rights Council in June 2024. Dr Cherupara Vadekkethil, who is both a former Cornelia Sorabji and Gopal Subramanium scholar within the OICSD, contributed to this policy submission as part of her ongoing work with the Oxford Human Rights Hub, alongside Prof. Sandra Fredman (Professor Laws of the British Commonwealth and USA) and several DPhil law students.
Substantive protection of academic freedom is needed to ensure that we do not lose capacity for self-reflection and knowledge generation.
The policy submission found that all three jurisdictions face challenges to academic freedom. These include job insecurity increasing the pressure to self-censorship, restrictions on institutional autonomy and harassment of dissenters. Only South Africa has an express constitutional provision on academic freedom, while the other two countries protect academic freedoms through model codes (Australia) and nonjusticiable undertakings to develop, inter alia, the ‘spirit of enquiry’.
Speaking of her work on the policy submission, Dr Cherupara Vadekkethil commented that, ‘Academic Freedom is in crisis everywhere. While working on this submission, I came across several instances where academic freedom has been stifled, which created an atmosphere of fear and repression. Substantive protection of academic freedom is needed to ensure that we do not lose capacity for self-reflection and knowledge generation. I hope that our contribution proves to be valuable for the UN Special Rapporteurs’ report.’