Three-D Issue 26: Future of HE and academic freedoms

einar-profileEinar Thorsen
Bournemouth University

It is barely a month since the UK voted in a referendum to leave the Eruopean Union. The somewhat unexpected victory for Leave came after a bad tempered campaign on both sides, characterised by a fear of unknowns and controversial truth claims

Brexit has thrown the political landscape into momentary turmoil, with chaotic resignations and leadership challenges, in both the main political parties – and of course a new Prime Minister and Government. Chilcot finally managed to publish the Inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq too. Analysis, commentary and predictions are superceded as fast as they are written in what really is Chaos A.D.

Academia is not immune, and there is genuine anxiety about issues such as status of EU students, ERASMUS exhange programmes, and that having a named UK partner might now undermine prospective EU research funding bids – to name a few. However, we need to take care that uncertainties don’t become self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling. Indeed the UK University sector has been under threat for some time – be that from increased commercialisation, privatisation, endless auditing and performance indecies, or concerns about how preventing extremism might encroach on freedom of speech.

In light of such conerns, the present issue of Three-D is devoted to exploring the future of Higher Education and academic freedoms in the UK – particularly in light of the Government White Paper on HE, the Prevent agenda, the Investigative Powers Bill, and of course: Brexit.

Yet these challenges pale in comparison to those faced by friends and colleagues in Turkey following recent events there, so please do read the MeCCSA intervention on page 26 about this situtation. We must support their plight and maintain international pressure to protect their academic freedom as well as ours.

If you would like to write for or advertise in the next edition of Three-D, please get in touch with me on ethorsen@bmth.ac.uk by October 2016. Suggestions for our website are also welcome.

Posted by Einar Thorsen