Higher Education

, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp 987–1002 | Cite as

Academic freedom: a lawyer’s perspective

  • Mark DaviesEmail author


Academic freedom is central to ideas of higher education, yet in the United Kingdom it is facing challenges from changing managerial approaches within some  universities and changing governmental expectations. Universities are increasingly expected to focus upon knowledge which can be shown to have value and to exploit the results of academic enterprise. Resulting constraints on teaching and research by incessant market-driven demands have the potential to compromise academic freedom. This article considers aspects of academic freedom in an increasingly market-driven environment from a lawyer’s perspective. The legal protections for academic freedom in the UK are minimal, and consideration of the intellectual property policies of a significant number of UK universities suggests that, in many, academic outputs, especially those relating to teaching, have become subject to more entrepreneurial models of higher education, becoming potentially saleable products to be owned and exploited by universities as they see fit. The position is exacerbated by increasing developments in the use of technology as part of the teaching process. Academics who lose ownership of aspects of their intellectual output risk the undermining of their position and academic freedom with a current employer and limiting their opportunities to change employer.


Academic freedom Law Intellectual property Copyright 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sussex Law SchoolUniversity of SussexFalmer, BrightonUK

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