Working Paper 40
Academic freedom and the future of Europe
Published July 2018

Political philosopher, author and former politician Professor Michael Ignatieff, Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest, argues that academic freedom and university autonomy are under attack.

The paper is based on his keynote at CGHE’s annual conference in April this year. 

Professor Ignatieff argues that academy freedom and university autonomy are seen as the privileges of a professorial elite. Yet he points out that universities are ‘counter-majoritarian institutions’ and form an essential counterbalance to majority rule.

He discusses the extent to which counter-majoritarian institutions across Europe are under pressure from populist movements and parties seeking to mobilise ‘the people’ against universities, as well as the press and courts.

He concludes by focusing on how universities could defend themselves against a sceptical public and rebuild the public support they need in order to sustain their role as counter-majoritarian institutions.

The paper includes a transcript of the Q&A session following the lecture.

Watch Professor Ignatieff’s full CGHE keynote, Academic freedom and the future of Europe

Visit the conference page to access the other keynote recordings, parallel session presentation slides and background papers.