Academic Freedom in Hungary under Threat

By Lydia Finzel June 1, 2020 Weekly Graphs

As the new V-Dem Democracy Report 2020 reveals, Hungary is one of the worst affected countries worldwide when it comes to autocratization. It is now the only autocracy in the European Union. One area under particular threat is freedom of academic and civic space. V-Dem’s online country graph tools offer a closer in-depth analysis of Hungary’s state of academic freedom.

Because academia often monitors political developments, it is important that academic freedom and criticism is valued and protected by society. However, restrictions in academic freedom are often one of the first steps autocratic leaders take to manifest their political power. For example, in 2019, the Central European University forced to relocate to Vienna as a result of continued legal and political pressure from Hungary’s increasingly autocratic government.

This week’s graph explores trends in Hungary using new V-Dem indicator for academic freedom. Academic freedom includes campus integrity, institutional autonomy, freedom of academic and cultural expression, freedom of academic exchange and dissemination, and freedom to research and teach. These indicators range from 0-4, with higher values representing greater freedoms.

The graph shows clearly that academic and cultural expression is under threat in Hungary, with public authorities and the government reacting with repression to academic criticism. All five indicators have declined substantially in the last decade. The greatest declines are seen in institutional autonomy, freedom of academic and cultural expression, and freedom to research and teach.  

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The new V-Dem index, measuring academic freedom, is the result of a collaboration between V-Dem, the Global Public Policy Institute, Scholars at Risk, and the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Do you want to get to know the new Academic Freedom Index in more depth? Visit v-dem.net for further analyses.

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