by Anna Mkrtchyan

Freedom is the power to act, speak and think freely. Freedom is the opportunity given to the people by the fact of their birth and guaranteed by the current legal system. The limitations to that may occur in the specific cases providing  a lot of evidential facts to legitimate the limitations. Freedom exists in various spheres of life. The constitutional and international laws help to maintain freedom. The academic freedom as a part of our life is not an exception.

Academic freedom is the freedom of teachers and students to teach, study and pursue knowledge and research without unreasonable interference or restriction from law, institutional regulations, or public pressure.  This is one of the accepted definitions for academic freedom. However, the term “Academic Freedom” tends to be difficult to define because it has differences in practical approach and in methodology. 

Due to the high technological society, changes become a way of life in every field. The thing that is not accepted in the current time period, is becoming necessary for the upcoming years.  The same is in the academic field. If you are not flexible, you will lose the advantage to learn and get new knowledge. 

A limitation is the thing stated by the law. Limits are only provided in legal provisions, otherwise, the individual is free in his/her actions, no matter in which field. It includes the academic field as well unless there is a legal act enforced which stands for the limitations of rights. But this statement is not accepted without exceptions.  

Due to the features of domestic legislations of different countries regulations on academic freedom may differ. As a result, the limitation and level of limitations may differ as well. Complex viewpoint was expressed by the Supreme Court of the United States. It says that academic freedom means any university can “determine its policy on academic grounds for itself.  

  • Who may teach 
  • What may be taught 
  • How it should be taught, and 
  • Who may be admitted to study 

The subject of debate is also launched between two categories. Is academic freedom for a university, college or any other institution which provides the same activities? Or, is academic freedom for the professor and student who has a direct impact on the teaching and learning process? 

Opinions are divided into two viewpoints. In one case the, academic freedom is considered to be both inside and outside the classroom. It means the university, the professors as well as the students have to deal with academic freedom. Maybe the impact and perceptions are different, but academic freedom does reflect on all participants of an academic field.  

The other theory for academic freedom is viewed as narrow. It is mainly about the idea of academic freedom owned by the institute or the academic staff. Though this opinion has the right to exist, we cannot agree with the level of limitations of this theory. 

The above-mentioned definition of academic freedom states the word “unreasonable”, enabling us to conclude that limitations may be reasonable and unreasonable. Going further to the legal formulations, it means that limitations may be legal and illegal.  

No one can approve if the facts are the reason to limit freedom. It is generally impossible to write a complete list of reasons which are considered to be legal. One thing is not doubtful; the limitations should be based on a legal ground not to outgrow the subjective category. In other words, your rights end when mine begin. We can analogically state that the limitation of your academic freedom starts when the rights and freedom of society and the third person start. As the whole logic of the article shows, we have viewed and discussed academic freedom as a right also as a legal relation which is a guaranteed opportunity by the law.  

Just to notice that we have to use the academic freedom for science and not against it. 


“Academic Freedom” tends to be difficult to define because it has differences in practical approach and in methodology. Due to the features of domestic legislation of different countries regulations on academic freedom may differ. We have to use the academic freedom for science and not against it.

05 February 2019
This text was published in Bullseye issue 75