Why we must stand up for academic freedom on campus: reflecting on the Index on Censorship reading list competition

Last week, we announced that Jenni Reid (MA student at Cardiff University), had won the Index on Censorship reading list competition. Randomly selected, entrants had been asked to tweet us the article from the accompanying Index Index Junereading lists that had had the most impact on them in terms of outlining and exploring the issues of academic freedom. You can find the full lists here.

Jenni selected, ‘Industrious Academics: Ireland’s Universities Under Commercial Pressure’ from the Threats to Academic Freedom reading list. We spoke to Jenni to hear her thoughts on the importance of the messages championed in the issue:

Hi Jenni, congratulations on winning the reading list competition! Academic freedom has been a hotly debated issue in the press recently. As a student, how much of an impact do discussions such as this have on you and your day to day study? Are you aware of the work that Index on Censorship does to support free expression?

Across the world, if freedom of speech is not protected and promoted on university campuses and instead become places where it is stifled and silent, damage will ensue not just to the creative and intellectual lives of its students but, eventually, to the progress of human thought. Academic freedom on campus should be supported.

 I first heard about Index on Censorship while studying for my Masters in Newspaper Journalism at Cardiff University when the editor, Rachael Jolley, gave a talk on freedom of expression in the press. The latest issue of Index provides an insight into the various ways in which the freedoms of academics and students worldwide are being curtailed, something which should concern us all whether we are students, graduates, academics or not.

Why did you choose your particular article to enter the competition?

I chose the article ‘Industrious Academics: Ireland’s Universities Under Commercial Pressure’ because it should act as a wake-up call to those in the UK and Ireland who believe that defending academic freedom is an issue for ‘elsewhere’, not something that concerns us in the West. Michael Foley explores the growing concern among Irish scientists about the rise of business-sponsored research and the prioritising of work with a commercial advantage. Universities need money to survive and thrive, but the progress of science should not become dictated by corporations with their own interests.

Below you can find some of the other articles from the lists that were nominated:

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