Exploring the Concepts of Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy - A case study of the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Suleimaniyah
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This thesis aimed to explore the concepts of academic freedom and institutional autonomy at the Faculty of Political Science (FPS) at the University of Suleimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. The main research problem was; how does the Faculty of Political Science cope with academic freedom and institutional autonomy?" The demarcation of the two concepts was as follows; 1. Academic freedom embedded in teachers' and students' working conditions. 2. Institutional autonomy embedded in the leadership`s working conditions and organisational governing patterns. Moreover, some of the variables of academic freedom were linked to what was considered to be academic tasks, while others were connected to civil rights. Furthermore, it was also important to investigate in how the participants experienced their rights of academic freedom when they were utilised at the Faculty compared to when utilised in the wider Kurdish society. The first part of the analysis was a descriptive chapter about how the FPS was organised. The establishment of the FPS represented a new form of organising political science in the sense that this was the first and only Faculty of Political Science in Kurdistan whereas others were departments of political science at their respective universities. Though on one hand it had clear and defined formal organisational structures, there was also an informal structure which in some situations was more guiding of the participants' behaviour than those of the formal hierarchical structures. The FPS was also organised as an expert organisation. The staff was recruited based on their formal degrees and expertise within the field of political science. While the leadership had to constantly work for mobilising scarce resources, they were entitled to the everyday steering of the FPS and consequently also the budget. The second part focused upon how and to what extent the organisation managed to secure academic freedom for its teachers and students. The data indicated that the FPS managed to secure a relatively high degree of academic freedom. The older student group was the group of participants which could enjoy a relatively higher degree of academic freedom compared to the other participants of the FPS, the younger students, the teachers and the Leadership. The older students were those who were admitted to the Faculty based on the decision made by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Kurdistan Regional Government. They were all members in political parties and most of them had high ranked positions in the public sector in Kurdistan. The teachers along with the younger students which were admitted through national recruitment programs stated that in some situations the presence of these older students were one of the most restrictive factors which made it difficult for them when they attempted to utilise the rights of academic freedom. Most of those variables of academic freedom which were linked to academic tasks seemed to be under the influence of lack of institutional autonomy, while the others linked to civil rights were under the influence of the informal structure and the wider society. The third part of the analysis focused upon institutional autonomy. The leaders could, in principle, establish the Bachelor program freely; the further analysis indicated that regionally coordinated planning of political science made it hard for the Leadership to decide...