The Academic Freedom Index is published by the Political Science Institute at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. It started life in 2017 and the first edition was released in 2020. It includes five measures of academic freedom: freedom to research and teach, freedom of academic exchange and dissemination, institutional autonomy, campus integrity, and freedom of academic and cultural expression. It is based on assessments from over 2000 international experts.
The Index has now been updated to reflect the situation as of December of last year.
The current top 10% of countries in terms of academic freedom consists mainly of European countries such as Czechia, Belgium, and Italy and Latin American countries such as Honduras, Argentina, and Peru plus Jamaica, Israel, and Nigeria.
The worst countries for academic freedom are Turkmenistan, Eritrea, Myanmar, and North Korea. The update reports a decreasing level of academic freedom in the UK, the USA, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, India, Russia, Ukraine, and China.
In contrast, the situation has improved in a number of countries such as Seychelles, Montenegro, Gambia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia the decline is associated with the growth of political autocracy. In India, the update notes a decline in university autonomy from 2009 and growing “centralization, bureaucratization, and politicization” since the election of 2014.