Ilyas Saliba published together with fellow researchers a FAU-Press book assessing Academic Freedom (AF). It is available as a free .pdf on

It includes case study guidelines & illuminating studies on AF in Brazil, Russia, Ireland, and Egypt. It also includes an instructional chapter on possible data sources for AF case studies.

In the introduction Katrin Kinzelbach argues that the UN's human rights system has largely overlooked academic freedom. Taking stock of AF in international covenants, she concludes that independent assessments are indispensable to understand how states respect and protect AF.

In the second chapter Kinzelbach, Janika Spannagel, and Ilyas present "Research Guidelines for Country Case Studies onAcademic Freedom". These guidelines are the result of a consultative process involving researchers and experts from various relevant fields. We hope that these guidelines will inspire other researchers working on Academic Freedom and be useful guidance for future studies. Through the interdisciplinary perspective we hope the guidelines can also help overcome persisting disciplinary perspectives and boundaries in AF research.

The following four chapters are country case studies conducted by researchers on the bases of the guidelines, exploring different cases with regards to recent developments of Academic Freedom in Brazil, Ireland, Russia and Egypt combining multiple methods of data collection.

In the Ireland study Kirsten J. Roberts and Elizaveta Potapova find that while  Academic Freedom is generally well protected and respected, recent trends of reduced funding and increased precarious employment in Higher Education, as well as increased student numbers and regulatory oversight are undermining institutional autonomy.

The Brazil study by Conrado Hubner finds that despite constitutional guarantees of Academic Freedom, in recent years the political discourse, budget cuts and new laws by the government created a hostile environment for academics. However, campaigning and courts have thus far averted a decline of AF.

The Russia study by K. Kaczmarska finds a trend to limiting Academic freedom, while acknowledging most repression targeting scholars or academic institutions is “soft” and tends to be exercised unsystematically. Scholars work in a climate of uncertainty and fear that they can be reprimanded at any time while the façade of formal protection of AF is maintained.

The study of Ilyas reveals that Academic Freedom in Egypt has deteriorated since the coup in 2013 and the gravest violations of AF (crackdowns on student protests and arrests of critical scholars) occurred until 2015. Since, the regime relies mostly on legal and regulatory measures to control and oppress the AF of students and scholars.

The final chapter by Janika Spannagel explores the perks & hazards of data sources on Academic Freedom, reviewing most available data types on AF, highlighting their advantages and limitations, and how they can best be used for country case studies and thereby provides a great resource for scholars interested in researching AF.

Sparked your interest?

You can find more information on the project Assessing #AcademicFreedom Worldwide – including his work on the Academic Freedom index with @V-Dem, @UniFAU @SAR here:

Ilyas Saliba is working on his dissertation at Berlin Graduate School for Social Sciences (BGSS) at the Humboldt University and Research Fellow working on Human Rights and Democracy at GPPi - Global Public Policy Institute. He received a scholarship of ZEIT-Stiftung within the program Trajectories of Change (2015).