Bologna Process: Education Trade unions call on ministries to respect academic freedom in higher education and research


The upcoming Rome Ministerial Meeting on 19 November 2020 is an important milestone for the Bologna Process, as the education ministries are called to adopt the Rome Communiqué which sets the main goals and challenges of Higher Education and Research for the next decade. ETUCE and its high-level representatives, on behalf of 127 Education Trade Unions and 11 million teachers in 51 European countries, urge education ministries to respect the fundamental value of academic freedom in higher education and research. Despite national laws and the statutes of higher education institutions formally guarantee academic freedom, in practice respect for this fundamental value is missing. Among the challenges undermining academic freedom in higher education and research, the ETUCE representatives within this video point out:  

  • Weak protection of academic freedom in some national legislations; 
  • Lack of long-term public funding, in favour of project-based funding that restricts the freedom of research and penalises its quality;  
  • Uncontrolled precariousness and abundance of fixed-term contracts with short duration that do not guarantee academics and researchers of their right of freedom in research and pedagogical choices;  
  • Increasing marketisation of higher education and research based on performance assessment, high tuition fees and managerialism; 
  • Increasing top-down governance models that deteriorate democracy and freedom of academic teaching and research in higher education.  

In light of the abovementioned factors which deteriorate academic freedom, education trade unions expect European education ministries to take effective actions for the protection of academic freedom in legislation and to establish measures and guidelines to guarantee the effective implementation of academic freedom in higher education and research.