Challenges to Academic Freedom at the University of Zambia

  • Sibeso Lisulo University of Zambia
  • Peggy Nsama University of Zambia
  • Mwansa Mukalula Kalumbi University of Zambia
  • Webster Hamweete University of Zambia
Keywords: Academic, Academic Freedom, Academic Leaders, Challenges, University of Zambia


There has been substantial discussion, research, and debate concerning the challenges to academic freedom within higher institutions of learning. This stems from the fact that universities often serve as centres of political and intellectual dissent, and as a result political regimes, societies and universities themselves are thus hesitant to grant universities the freedom and autonomy that may cause instability. Academic freedom at the University of Zambia (UNZA) and other Zambian universities is not extensively documented or understood. Therefore this paper seeks to explore the challenges of academic freedom at UNZA by employing a qualitative phenomenological hermeneutic design to collect data on the lived experiences, perceptions and views of the 30 purposively selected participants: 15 academics and 15 academic leaders. The paper was anchored on the theory of social capital and resource dependence. Quantitative data was analysed using thematic analysis. The following major finding resulted from the study: academics and academic leaders experienced various challenges in exercising academic freedom, causing UNZA not to completely realise its mission of creating knowledge through scholarship and research; it was revealed that academics and academic leaders were implicitly violated and controlled by the university management and government through heavy academic responsibilities, financial restraint, lack of academic freedom policy, and freedom of expression. All of these factors hindered the enjoyment of academic freedom at UNZA. However, the participants submitted that they had not experienced any severe or gross violation or limitation of their academic freedom. Various strategies