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European universities again raise fears about academic freedom

Troubling limitations to academic freedom “have come to the fore” recently, university groups warn

Five university groups have come together to sign a declaration warning about threats to academic freedom, and flagging up troubling developments since a similar move was made with an earlier declaration.

“The world and Europe five years after Prague Declaration I are not a safer place,” says the Second Prague Declaration, announced on 27 September.

“The limitation of academic freedoms in some countries, populism, restrictions caused by the pandemic, the questioning of experts, have all come to the fore.”

The declaration was signed by representatives of Charles University, the Coimbra Group, the European University Association, Europaeum, the League of European Research Universities and the Unica group.

It says that the first Prague Declaration warned against “simplified solutions and growing populism”, and that “the danger is still there and democracy, tolerance, humanism and open-mindedness are still under threat”.

The declaration adds that universities can help to tackle the threat through academic exchanges, as well as by nurturing critical thinking and common values.