Academic Freedom Index

Academic Freedom Index AFI

The State of Academic Freedom Worldwide

The interactive map above provides a comprehensive overview of academic freedom in 179 countries and territories in 2023. Based on assessment of the de facto protection of academic freedom as of December 2023, users can compare countries and investigate developments within countries over time.

New Update

The image shows the Academic Freedom Index Update 2024 cover. It shows students and reseachers looking at a world map.
Cover of the Academic Freedom Index Report

Based on assessment of the de facto protection of academic freedom as of December 2023, the Academic Freedom Index Update 2024 provides an overview of the state of academic freedom in 179 countries and territories. In line with previous AFI reports, this year’s data demonstrates that academic freedom is under threat globally. Using the concept of growth and decline episodes at country level, this year’s update shows that 23 countries are in episodes of decline in academic freedom, but academic freedom is increasing in only ten countries. 3.6 billion people now live in countries where academic freedom is completely restricted. Taking a longer time period into account by comparing 2023 data with that of fifty years ago, we note more optimistically that academic freedom expanded in 56 countries.

Academic Freedom Index

The Academic Freedom Index (AFI) assesses de facto levels of academic freedom across the world based on five indicators: freedom to research and teach

To what extent are scholars free to develop and pursue their own research and teaching agendas without interference?
; freedom of academic exchange and dissemination
To what extent are scholars free to exchange and communicate research ideas and findings?
; institutional autonomy
To what extent do universities exercise institutional autonomy in practice?
; campus integrity
To what extent are campuses free from politically motivated surveillance or security infringements?
; and freedom of academic and cultural expression
Is there academic freedom and freedom of cultural expression related to political issues?
. The AFI currently covers 179 countries and territories, and provides the most comprehensive dataset on the subject of academic freedom.

The AFI rests on assessments by 2,329 country experts worldwide, standardized questionnaires, and a well-established statistical model, implemented and adapted by the V-Dem project. The V-Dem project is known for generating sound data on various dimensions of democracy. The Academic Freedom Index uses a Bayesian measurement model method for data aggregation: it not only provides so-called point estimates, but also transparently reports measurement uncertainty in the global assessment of academic freedom. We strongly recommend that users take this uncertainty into account when comparing scores between countries and over time. You can learn more about our research and the index on our website. In addition, this introductory article explains the index design in more detail.

YouTube Cover
Video: Academic Freedom Index explained

AFI Project History

The Academic Freedom Index (AFI) project started in 2017 with an expert consultation in Cologne, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. In 2019, with financial support from OSF’s Higher Education Program, researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the V-Dem Institute, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the Global Public Policy Institute joined forces to launch the first version of the AFI, which was released in 2020. Please check out the team tab on this website to learn more about the key individuals who have worked on the AFI project so far. At present, V-Dem and FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg continue to implement the AFI project with a grant from the VolkswagenStiftung.