Closing Academic Space

State Restrictions on Higher Education Institutions

Published: March 2019

Universities and other institutions of higher education around the world face increasing legislative, regulatory, and administrative limitations on their autonomy, ranging from state interference in their governance structures to controls on their academic programs. These types of interference often severely undermine the ability of universities to conduct teaching and research and undertake critical inquiry freely.

As the autonomy of universities is closely related to the healthy functioning of democratic societies, the significance of repressive state practices extends beyond what might be important for universities only.

This report, written by Kirsten Roberts Lyer and Aron Suba, examines the ways in which governments worldwide are constricting the au­tonomy of institutions of higher education and closing academic space. The authors identify varieties of restrictive practices and make recommendations that can help stakeholders reduce government interference and maintain universities’ autonomy.