It is called “Academic Freedom under siege”. The book
compiles several papers about the universities in East Asia, United States and
Australia. It argues that universities are becoming similar to companies, an
industry. The management is in charge. And teachers and faculties have less
power. The case of Macau is also addressed in the book.
(SOUND BITE: “Higher education history (in Macau) is relatively short. So we don’t have a strong tradition in terms of faculty governance. So we have much less faculty power or faculty involvement in higher education management.”)
Lack of tradition and government control.
(SOUND BITE: “Political power pressure is very strong. That is to say: the Macau govt relation with mainland China is very close. So whatever the mainland wants Macau to do, Macau will do it. ”)
Hao Zhidong is one of the book’s editors. He says that in the case of the University of Macau, the government control is made through the board of trustees, which is made of an elite close to the government. Professors and faculties are not even aware that they should have more power... And that has consequences in education.
(SOUND BITE: “They are producing students that are very political in terms of supporting the party and state, rather than professional, rather than critical of social social issues and political issues. They are not. They are docile. They are obedient citizens. That maybe is what the government wants. “)
Hao Zhidong’s knows about what he is talking about. He was a professor at the university of Macau, between 2003 and 2017.
(SOUNDBITE“Some professors were warned not to talk about some things openly, you know. That I know. I was warned once, but I know that other two professors that were also warned not to talk about it.)
Regarding political debate in universities.... Sou Chio Fai, Director of the Higher Education Bureau, says there is a consensus in Macau. Professors may have political views, but they shouldn’t show them on campus, or try to influence students and colleagues.
(SOUNDBITE: “It doesn’t have to do with consensus, it has to do with professionalism”)
Hao Zhidong claims that there is a need to show professionalism inside the classroom. But outside the classroom it’s another matter.
(SOUNDBITE: “What about, outside the classroom, for example, can students show their support of Hong Kong democracy. Of course they can, it’s freedom of speech. Right? Can professors show support… Say, por example, sign a letter in support of Hong Kong Democracy, of course they can. It’s their freedom of speech.
The scholar argues that outside the classroom, teachers and students are not only free to be engaged politicaly, but they should be engaged. That’s part of higher education.