Academic Freedom Policy
Near East University
Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech Policy

Version: 2        Creation date: 2001        Last review date: 8 December 2023

1. Purpose
At our University, we prioritise freedom of expression, embrace diverse opinions, and uphold the academic autonomy of our entire academic community. These principles lie at the core of our mission. Our University upholds the right of individuals, groups, and societies to organise events, conferences, lectures, and seminars on challenging subjects, even with potentially controversial speakers. Our commitment remains steadfast in facilitating and promoting free speech within legal boundaries, ensuring that it does not incite violence, discrimination, or hatred. The aim of this policy is to safeguard the academic freedom and freedom of speech for all faculty and students affiliated with the Near East University.

2. Definition
According to the first paragraph of the sixth article of the Law No. 65/2005 on Higher Education in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), academic freedom and institutional autonomy stand as fundamental principles of higher education. The same law defines ‘academic freedom’ as ‘the conduct of academic research and the expression of thoughts by teaching staff and universities in accordance with international standards and ethical principles of science, without any form of pressure or constraint’.

In line with the definition provided above, this policy describes ‘academic freedom’ as follows:

  • the freedom of academic staff to engage in teaching, discussions, and research activities, as well as to disseminate and publish the outcomes of their research without constraint;
  • the academic staff and students' rights to actively pursue intellectual inquiry, express opinions and beliefs, and actively contribute to public debate, concerning their areas of study and research;
  • the freedom of academic staff and students to express their opinions regarding the higher education institution where they are employed or enrolled;
  • the autonomy of academic staff concerning the teaching methodologies for their academic courses, and their research pursuits, allowing them the freedom to choose how courses are conducted and research activities are carried out;
  • the freedom of academic staff to engage in professional or representative academic bodies;
  • the freedom of students to actively participate in student societies and associations.

3. Applicability of the Policy

The policy shall apply to:

  • all University affiliates, including members of the Board of Trustees;
  • every individual employed by the University, whether part-time or full-time, and those representing the institution;
  • all enrolled students at the University, irrespective of their enrolment status (full-time or part-time);
  • any individuals studying at the University under an agreement with another institution (e.g., a school, college, or employer), regardless of their formal enrolment status at the University;
  • any societies, clubs, or associations operating within the University premises;
  • all individuals invited to speak or participate in events organised by the University.

4. Principles of Academic Freedom

  • The University asserts its academic autonomy and acknowledges its duties in safeguarding the academic freedom of both faculty and students, ensuring their rights to exercise freedom of expression.
  • The University will endeavour to ensure that every individual covered by this Policy enjoys freedom of speech and expression within legal boundaries.
  • The University is responsible for ensuring that these expressions stay within the realm of sharing viewpoints and do not lead to incitement of riot, insurrection, ethnic, racial, or religious hatred, as well as sexual harassment or harassment based on gender identity. Additionally, activities should not extend beyond peaceful protest, as these could potentially incite public disorder or violate the law.
  • The University will ensure that no individual or group is denied participation in University events based on their personal beliefs or opinions, or on the policies or objectives of that group
  • All academic staff and students have the right to academic freedom, which is only limited by:
    ○ legal mandates;
    ○ essential and reasonable regulations crucial for the University's teaching and research functions;
    ○ necessary and reasonable regulations vital for the welfare of students and staff.

5. Event Compliance Guidelines

The guidelines outlined in this Policy apply to students, employees, and other University members regarding on campus and off campus events that are organised, funded, or affiliated with the University, utilising its name or resources.

5a. On-campus event management

The University is responsible for upholding orderliness concerning the events it hosts. It possesses the authority and ability to regulate and, if required, set terms or limitations on events, including meetings and demonstrations, arranged or intended to be organised by the University in accordance with the aforementioned framework for academic freedom.

Regarding student societies, an application to the Student Deanship is required for all events involving external speakers. This application should include specifics about the proposed topic, event structure, identities of speakers, and the planned time and location. Advertising is prohibited until event permission has been granted.

The University will not unjustly deny permission for organising and conducting events. The expression of controversial opinions, as long as they comply with the law, will not serve as reasonable cause for event denial. Grounds for refusal might include situations where the event is likely to:

  • incite attendees to commit a criminal offence;
  • result in the unlawful expression of viewpoints, including hate speech;
  • prompt a breach of peace such as incitement to violence or aggression.

5b. Off-campus organization of University-branded events and activities

Faculty and student society-led off-campus events will be assessed following the directives specified in section 5a.