• Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

Campus Beat

Independent Student News Organization

What is the Academic Freedom Index of India?

Ritika Gusaiwal

ByRitika Gusaiwal

Nov 10, 2020

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Beat. Any issues, including, offense and copyright infringment, can be directly taken up with the author.

architectural photography of mosque

With a score of 0.352, India has scored low in the international Academic Freedom Index (AFI). In the last five years, the AFI of India has fallen by 0.1 points.

What is the academic freedom Index? The Academic Freedom Index proposes a score for each country to help it determine the level of academic freedom in its universities and academic centers. To which the researchers behind the idea say that it can be used to understand a university’s attractiveness in addition to its infrastructure, research output, etc.

The AFI uses eight components to evaluate the scores:

1. Freedom to research and teach

2. Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination

3. Institutional autonomy

4. Campus integrity

5. Freedom of academic and cultural expression

6. Constitutional protection of academic freedom

7. A legal commitment to academic freedom under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

8. Existence of universities

India’s dismal score on the Academic Freedom Index is a reflection of the critical issues plaguing the country’s education system, particularly in the higher education sector. It also depicts that India is lacking behind in these components in providing academic freedom.


  • Politicization- Educational and research institutions are not able to work independently due to political interference which directly affects their academic freedom.
  • A majority of appointments, especially of top-management posts like that of vice-chancellors, pro-vice-chancellors, and registrars have become highly politicized.
  • Promotion of unhealthy favoritism & nepotism in staff appointments, and student admissions, which lead to corrupt practices, including those in licensing and accreditation.
  • Bureaucratization in the system- Public educational institutions and regulatory bodies, both at the Central and State levels are headed by bureaucrats.

Role of National Education Policy

  • The NEP 2020 is based on principles of creativity and critical thinking and envisions an education system that is free from political or external interference.
  • This policy will provide faculty, the freedom to design their own curricular and pedagogical approaches within the approved framework.
  • Further, it aims to de-bureaucratize the education system by giving governance powers to academicians.
  • It also suggests constituting the National Research Foundation (NRF), which will be governed by the government by a rotating Board of Governors consisting of the very best researchers and innovators across fields.

Way forward-

  • Higher education policy-makers must open their eyes and respond to the declining AFi scores. This will also help in making “India a global knowledge superpower”, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG 4 -Quality Education).
  • Academic freedom is primary because universities are places for raising doubts and asking questions about everything. Exploring ideas, debating issues, and thinking independently, all of these are essential parts of the quest for excellence.
  • Every government laments the absence of world-class universities, without realizing that it is attributable in part to their interventions and the growing intrusion of political processes. Where politics is largely kept out—as in IIT, IIM, or the IISc—institutions thrive on their own culture.

To raise the AFI system needs to correct small loop holes and to successfully incorporate The NEP 2020.
Academics plays the key roles in developing youth.
So, to develop the Nation, Develop the youth and for the youth freedom is essential.