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The US and UK have both fallen in a global academic freedom ranking, with a 2022 stocktake showing continued declines in basic freedoms and how security impacts on campus life.

The 2022 Academic Freedom Index (AFI) is based on reports from more than 2,000 scholars who chalk up changes across five areas: the freedom to research and teach; the freedom of academic exchange; institutional autonomy; campus integrity; and the freedom of academic and cultural expression.

The US and UK are among 22 countries that saw “significant declines” across the indicators between 2012 and 2022, with major drops also seen in Egypt, Turkey, India and China. In 2022, the biggest decline in the US was in the freedom to research and teach, while for the UK it was in campus integrity.

In the US, the index picked up state-level changes like bills that ban the teaching of concepts related to critical race theory, the erosion of tenure and university moves to restrict staff rights to testify against their state. In the UK, 2021-22 declines were in “campus integrity” – an indicator of how free campuses are from politically motivated surveillance or security infringements – the value of which fell from 3.2 to 3, down from 3.6 in 2012.

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