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The 2023 update to the Academic Freedom Index, released Thursday, paints a bleak picture for the U.S. and the world.
“Academic freedom is in retreat for over 50 percent of the world’s population—4 billion people,” the accompanying report says. “This year’s update of the AFI identifies 22 countries and territories where universities and scholars enjoy significantly less freedom today than 10 years ago. During the same period, academic freedom has improved in only five small countries, which benefits a mere 0.7 percent of the global population. Academic freedom is stagnating in most countries (152), often at far too low a level.”
The United States is among the countries that have “undergone significant and substantial declines in academic freedom since 2012,” the report says.
Atop overall findings, the report says it highlights “India, China, the USA and Mexico to illustrate different levels and patterns of backsliding in populous autocratic and democratic countries.”
Katrin Kinzelbach, an author of the report and a professor at Germany’s Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, wrote in an email that the index “is the result of an international collaboration involving 2,197 country experts worldwide, coordinated by researchers” at her university’s Institute of Political Science and Sweden’s University of Gothenburg V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute.