The Academic Freedom Index is published by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi). The latest edition is the result of collaboration between researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the V-Dem Institute, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the GPPi) plus 2,000 international experts.
The report argues that academic freedom should be an important element in the establishment and maintenance of universities’ reputation and should be included in the construction of academic rankings.
The methodology is based on eight indicators:
- Freedom to research and teach
- Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
- Institutional autonomy
- Campus integrity
- Freedom of academic and cultural expression
- Constitutional protection of academic freedom
- International commitment to academic freedom
- Existence of universities.
The indicators were combined to form five levels. Level A, with the highest degree of freedom, includes North America, most of Europe, Australasia, Nigeria, Botswana and Mongolia. Levels B and C include Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, and most countries in Africa. Russia is in level D and China and most of the Middle East in level E.
The report notes that academic freedom took a big step forward in the nineties but in some countries has eroded in the last few years. There have been noticeable declines in Turkey, Belarus, Sri Lanka, and Poland. On the other hand, the situation has improved in Kazakhstan, Sudan and North Macedonia.