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Academic Freedom Policy - Report from the Senate Task Force on Academic Freedom

It was recognised from the outset that the issue (or rather issues) of academic freedom, vital as it is to the life of each and every university, was bound to engage the academic community, if not the public, with interest. Accordingly, the Senate at its meeting on September 5, 2000 established a Task Force on Academic Freedom in order to determine the requirements and mechanisms to safeguard academic freedom as an institutional asset. The Task Force submitted its report to the Senate in November 2002, which was subsequently approved and endorsed by the Senate and the Council respectively.

The report has identified the following important areas and hence recommendations, concerning the issues and assurance of academic freedom at this University. These recommendations, all accepted by the Senate and the Council, shall become the policy framework for assuring academic freedom at the University of Hong Kong.

  1. A working definition of academic freedom in the form of an institutional declaration, as follows: 
    "Academic freedom refers to the freedom of academic institutions, structures and individuals to study, teach, research and publish without being subject to undue interference, free of any authority or standard other than the rational methods by which truth is established. The notion of academic freedom reflects the belief that it enhances the pursuit, transmission and application of knowledge, and as such may be supported by society through the funding of academics and their institutions. Academic freedom embodies an acceptance of the need to encourage openness and flexibility in academic work, and of the accountability of academics to each other and to the norms of cooperative pursuit of knowledge."
  2. A list of specific academic freedom enjoyed by the University and its members with corresponding responsibilities.
  3. There should be a proper mechanism to deal with complaints on infringement of academic freedom.