Free to Think 2020 - Scholars at Risk


Free to Think 2020 analyzes 341 attacks on higher education communities in 58 countries between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020.

The report draws on data from SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and identifies trends related to attacks on higher education communities, including violent attacks on campuses in Afghanistan, India, and Yemen; wrongful imprisonments and prosecutions of scholars; restrictions on academic travel, deployed most prominently by authorities in Israel, Turkey, and the United States; pressures on student expression included sustained pressures in Colombia, India, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and South Africa; and legislative and administrative threats to university autonomy, including in Brazil, Ghana, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Turkey.

The report provides detailed analysis of pressures on national and regional higher education communities, including:

  • Extensive damage to Yemen’s higher education sector brought about by half a decade of war and a humanitarian crisis;
  • The ongoing struggle for freedom in Hong Kong and China as it has played out in and around the higher education space;
  • Continued challenges to Turkey’s academic community following a four-year crackdown and purge of scholars;
  • A clampdown on scholar and student dissent in India under the country’s nationalist ruling party;
  • Impacts of Venezuela’s economic crisis on a struggling higher education system; and
  • Pressures on higher education communities around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scholars at Risk
Publication year: 


  • UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

Sponsored by

  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry of Business and Employment. Department of Research and Universities
  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry for Foreign Action and Open Government