Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are essential for universities to produce the research and teaching necessary to improve society and the human condition.
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are increasingly important components of the development of democracy. At the same time, these fundamental democratic values are subject to pressure in many countries.
The Council of Europe has just published the book Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy, and the Future of Democracy. This book is a result of last year’s discussions held on the occasion of the Global Forum on Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy, and the Future of Democracy (Strasbourg, June 20-21, 2019).
UNIMED contributed to the book with a chapter on Institutional Autonomy: Examples and Challenges.
The contribution was an analysis of the concept of institutional autonomy and academic freedom within the MENA region taking into consideration three countries as case-study, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The three countries, have faced a reform process aiming at developing a good governance system related to higher education, at improving quality assurance mechanisms and at ensuring autonomy and responsibility. The recent political changes in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa countries) give hope that university governance in the region will be more democratic, transparent, and efficient in the long term. However, in the short term, the current transition that some countries are experiencing such as the three above, are showing some difficulties and challenges discussed in the paper. The three countries, each with its specific features and social and political perspectives, share some structural commonalities in terms of the need to improve university autonomy (both academic and financial autonomy) and reinforce good governance, which also implies strengthening quality assurance mechanisms.
Higher education leaders, public authorities and representatives of NGOs from Europe, USA, Asia, Middle East and Latin America took part in the last year’s Forum in Strasbourg.
UNIMED, represented by its Director, Marcello Scalisi, participated in this event allowing him to take part in the declaration addressed to public authorities to “set the framework for academic freedom and institutional autonomy and continuously monitor the implementation of those fundamental rights, while encouraging the adoption of sustainable long-term strategies for higher education”.
UNIMED is very committed in the topic of University Governance. On this subject, it coordinates the project SaGESSE and the project ESAGOV, respectively in Tunisia and Algeria and participates, as partner, in projects on University Governance in Palestine (project UniGov – ended on 2019) and Iraq (project InSpire).