Obstacles to Excellence: new report from Scholars at Risk maps threats to academic freedom in China

30 September 2019

EUA partner Scholars at Risk released the report Obstacles to Excellence, mapping threats to academic freedom that jeopardise China’s higher education ambitions.

As noted in the report, a small but growing number of international universities have responded to academic freedom concerns by scaling back or terminating partnerships with institutions in mainland China and with China-supported institutes on their own campuses. Obstacles to Excellence urges public discussion on the issue, with the goal of identifying practices that recognise China’s legitimate higher education ambitions while fully protecting academic freedom.

“Given the size of its higher education sector, and China’s important and growing position on the global academic stage, it is more important than ever to discuss the issues raised publicly and to work together to institutionalise policies and practices that safeguard academic freedom and recognise its central role in world-class universities and scholarship,” says SAR’s Advocacy Director Clare Robinson.

The report draws on academic literature, legislative and regulatory texts, media, human rights reports, interviews with Chinese and foreign experts, and data from SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project.

SAR invites comments or inquiries about this report and its recommendations at

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