Academic freedom can be defined as a right to educate and learn any diverse course without intervention or any objection. Academic freedom is a very broad spectrum topic that has different meanings when used at different strata. Institutional academic freedom is referred to the right of an institution to teach any diverse course without interference from the government. Whereas the right of an individual professor to teach his/her curriculum without undue interference from university is known as individual academic freedom.
According to the All India Survey in 2018-19, India has 993 universities, 39,931 colleges and 10,725 standalone institutions. Of these, 385 universities and 78% of the colleges are privately managed while 394 universities and 60.53% of the colleges are located in rural areas. The enrolment in higher education in India is 37.4 million persons (19.2 million males and 18.2 million females). The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India is 26.3%. Certain categories of citizens have less access to higher education – for instance, Scheduled Castes have a GER of 23% and Scheduled Tribes have a GER of 17.2% as compared to the national GER of 26.3%. Muslims constitute only 5.2% of the student population, compared to their overall percentage of about 14.2% in the population.
A new education policy (NEP) has been introduced in the year 2020 that promises, certain reforms in the field of education in India. Under this policy 5+3+3+4 structure will be followed and rigid separation between science, arts and commerce stream will not be there in the education system. Furthermore, internships and vocational courses, as well as workshops, will be included in the study module after 5th grade. And coding would be a must for 6th grader. No doubt, NEP could help up to very extent to reform the education in India if it would be implemented as stated.
Academic freedom becomes challenging when authorities put limitations on the right to express ideology. To protect favoured position, officials or authorities deny the rightfulness of academic enquiry which makes it even more complex. Scholars, researchers and institutions should be free to conduct research and publish papers in whatsoever field that is suitable and convenient for the study. Academic freedom is necessary and it must be protected.