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ACADEMIC FREEDOM

ATTY. LHEM J. NAVAL, JD, LLM


Academic Freedom. Academic freedom shall
be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning
[Sec. 5(2), Art. XIV]. Colleges, publicly- or
privately-owned, if they offer collegiate courses,
enjoy academic freedom.
 1. Two Views:

 a) From the standpoint of the educational institution: The freedom of the university
to determine “who may teach; what may be taught, how it shall be taught; and who
may be admitted to study” [Sweezy v. State of New Hampshire, 354
 U.S. 234].

 i) Thus, in Miriam College Foundation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127930,


November 15, 2000, it was held that if the school has the freedom to determine
whom to admit, logic dictates that it also has the right to determine whom to
exclude or expel, as well as to impose lesser sanctions such as suspension. While
under the Education Act of 1982, students have the right to “freely choose their field
of study subject to existing curricula, and to continue their course therein up to
graduation”, such right is subject to the established academic and disciplinary
standards laid down by the academic institution.
 b) From the standpoint of the members of the academe: The
 freedom of the teacher or research worker in higher institutions of learning to
investigate and discuss the problems of his science and to express his conclusions,
whether through publication or in the instruction of students, without interference
from political or ecclesiastical authority, or from the administrative officials of the
institution in which he is employed, unless his methods are found by qualified
bodies of his own profession to be completely incompetent or contrary to
professional ethics [Frank Lovejoy, Encyclopedia of Social Science, p. 384]. ,
 i) i) In Camacho v. Coresis, G.R. No. 134372, August 22, 2002, the Supreme Court
upheld the action of the Ombudsman investigator In dismissing the administrative
complaint against the professor on the ground of academic freedom. Dr. Daleon’s
teaching style, which was validated by the action of the University Board of
Regents, is bolstered by the constitutional guarantee on academic freedom. As
applied in this case, academic freedom clothes Dr. Daleon with the widest latitude
to innovate and experiment on the method of teaching which is most fitting to his
students (graduate students, at that), subject only to the rules and policies of the
University.
2. Limitations: [Kay v. Board of Higher Education
of New York, 173 Miss 943]:

a)The dominant police power of the State; and


b)The social interests of the community.
CASES

 a) In Board of Medical Education v. Judge Alfonso, 176 SCRA 304, the


Supreme Court sustained the decision of the Board of Medical Education in
closing the Philippine Muslim-Christian College of Medicine for being
“inadequate”.

 b) In Capitol Medical Center v. Court of Appeals, 178 SCRA 493, the closure
of the nursing school was upheld, after due notice to the DECS, when its
teachers and students declared a strike, refusing to hold classes and take
examinations. The school may not be forced to reopen at the instance of the
striking students. In University of the Philippines v. Judge Ayson, 176 SCRA 571,
the Court also sustained the closure of the U.P. Baguio High School, on the
ground that U.P. was set up as a tertiary institution and that the High School was
set up only as an incident to its tertiary functions.
 c) In Non v. Dames, 185 SCRA 523, the Supreme Court reversed its ruling in
Alcuaz v. PSBA, 161 SCRA 7, declaring that the “termination of contract” theory
in Alcuaz can no longer be used as a valid ground to deny readmission or re-
enrolment to students who had led or participated in student mass actions
against the school. The Court held that the students do not shed their
constitutionally- protected rights of free expression at the school gates. Cited
with approval were the rulings in Malabanan v. Ramento, 129 SCRA 359, along
with Villar v. Technological Institute of the Philippines, 135 SCRA 706; Arreza v.
Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, 137 SCRA 94; and Guzman v. National
University, 142 SCRA 699. Accordingly, the only valid grounds to deny
readmission of students are academic deficiency and breach of the school’s
reasonable rules of conduct. Be that as it may, in imposing disciplinary sanctions
on students, it was held in Guzman (reiterated in Ateneo de Manila University v.
Capulong, supra.) that the following minimum
 standards of procedural due process must be satisfied: (i) the students must be
informed in writing of the nature and cause of the accusation against them; (ii)
they shall have the right to answer the charges against them, with the
assistance of counsel, if desired; (iii) they shall be informed of the evidence
against them; (iv) they shall have the right to adduce evidence in their own
behalf; and (v) the evidence must be duly considered by the investigating
committee or official designated by the school authorities to hear and decide
the case. Held inapplicable to this case are the rulings in Garcia v. The Faculty
Admission Committee, Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277 [where the issue
was whether a female lay student had the right to compel a seminary for the
priesthood to admit her for theological studies leading to a degree], and
Tangonan v. Pano, 135 SCRA 245 [where the issue was whether a nursing
student, who was admitted on probation and who failed in her nursing subjects,
may compel her school to readmit her for enrolment],
 d) In Tan v. Court of Appeals, 199 SCRA 212, which involved
a bitter conflict between the administrators of Grace Christian
High School and the parents of some students on matters of
school policy, the Supreme Court said that the “maintenance
of a morally conducive and orderly educational environment
will be seriously imperilled if, under the circumstances of the
case, Grace Christian High School is forced to admit
petitioners’ children and to reintegrate them into the student
body.

 e) In University of San Carlos v. Court of Appeals, 166 SCRA


570, the Court held that it is within the sound discretion of the
university to determine whether a student may be conferred
graduation honors, considering that the student had incurred
a failing grade in an earlier course she took in school.
 f) In Lupangco v. Court of Appeals, 160 SCRA 848, Resolution No. 105 of
the Professional Regulation Commission prohibiting examinees for the
accountancy licensure examinations from attending “any review class,
briefing, conference or the like” or to “receive any hand-out, review
material or any tip” from any school, etc., was held to have violated the
academic freedom of the schools concerned. PRC cannot interfere with
the conduct of review that review schools and centers believe would best
enable their enrolees to meet the standards required before becoming
full-fledged public accountants.

 g) In Reyes v. Court of Appeals, 194 SCRA 402, the Supreme Court ruled
that under the U.P. Charter, the power to fix admission requirements is
vested in the University Council of the autonomous campus, which is
composed of the President of the University'of the Philippines and of all
instructors holding the rank of professor, associate professor or assistant
professor. Consequently, the University Council alone has the right to
protest against any unauthorizedexercise of its power. Petitioners cannot
impugn the directives of the Board of Regents on the ground of academic
freedom inasmuch as their rights as university teachers remain unaffected.
h) In Cagayan Capitol College v. NLRC, 189 SCRA
658, it was held that while DECS regulations prescribe
a maximum of three years probation period for
teachers, the termination of the three-year period
does not result in the automatic permanent status for
the teacher. It must be conditioned on a showing
that the teacher’s services during the probationary
period was satisfactory in accordance with the
employer's standards. The prerogative of the school
to provide standards for its teachers and to
determine whether or not these standards have
been met is in accordance with academic freedom
and constitutional autonomy which give educational
institutions the right to choose who should teach.
 k) In University of the Philippines and Alfredo de Torres
v. Civil Service Commission, G.R. No. 132860, April 3,
2001, the Supreme Court sustained the primacy of
academic freedom over Civil Service rules on AWOL,
stressing that when the UP opted to retain private
petitioner and even promoted him despite his absence,
the University was exercising its freedom to choose who
may teach or who may continue to teach in its faculty.
Even in light of provisions of the Civil Service Law, the
respondent Commission had no authority to dictate to
UP or any institution of higher learning the outright
dismissal of its personnel.
How should the State’s power to regulate educational
institutions be exercised?
 Section 4[1], Article XIV of the Constitution recognizes the State’s power to regulate
educational institutions:

 The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the
educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all
educational institutions.

 As may be gleaned from the above provision, such power to regulate is subject to the
requirement of reasonableness. Moreover, the Constitution allows merely the
regulation and supervision of educational institutions, not the deprivation of their rights.
(Miriam College Foundation, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 348 SCRA 265, 288, Dec. 15,
2000, 1st Div. [Kapunan])
Academic freedom of institutions of
higher learning

 1. Equally mandated by Article XIV, Section 5[2] of the 1987 Constitution


is that academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher
learning. Academic freedom of educational institutions has been
defined as the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims
and objectives, and how best to attain them - free from outside
coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public
welfare calls for some restraint. It has a wide sphere of autonomy
certainly extending to the choice of students. Said constitutional
provision is not to be construed in a niggardly manner or in a grudging
fashion. That would be to frustrate its purpose and nullify its intent
(Garcia v. The Faculty Admission Committee, et al., supra; Tangonan v.
Pano, et al., supra.)
 While it is true that an institution of learning has a contractual
obligation to afford its students a fair opportunity to complete the
course they seek to pursue (Licup, et al. v. University of San Carlos
[USC], et al., supra.), since a contract creates reciprocal rights and
obligations, the obligation of the school to educate a student would
imply a corresponding obligation on the part of the student to study
and obey the rules and regulations of the school (Capitol Medical
Center, Inc., et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., supra.). When a student
commits a serious breach of discipline or failed to maintain the
required academic standard, he forfeits his contractual right.
In this connection, this Court recognizes the
expertise of educational institutions in the various
fields of learning. Thus, they are afforded ample
discretion to formulate reasonable rules and
regulations in the admission of students (Yap Chin
Fah, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No.
90063, December 12, 1989), including setting of
academic standards. Within the parameters
thereof, they are competent to determine who
are entitled to admission and re-admission.
 Section 5[2], Article XIV of the Constitution guarantees all
institutions of higher learning academic freedom. This
institutional academic freedom includes the right of the
school or college to decide for itself, its aims and
objectives, and how best to attain them free from
outside coercion or interference save possibly when the
overriding public welfare calls for some restraint
(Tangonan v. Pano, 137 SCRA 245, 256-257 [1985]). The
essential freedoms subsumed in the term “academic
freedom” encompasses the freedom to determine for
itself on academic grounds:
 (1) Who may teach,
 (2) What may be taught,
 (3) How it shall be taught, and
 (4) Who may be admitted to study. (Isabelo, Jr. v. Perpetual Help College
of Rizal, Inc., 227 SCRA 591, 595 [1993]; Ateneo de Manila University v.
Capulong, 222 SCRA 643, 660 [1993]; Garcia v. The Faculty Admission
Committee, Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277, 285 [1975]. The
above formulation was made by Justice Felix Frankfurter in his concurring
opinion in Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 263)
 The right of the school to discipline its students is at once
apparent in the third freedom, i.e., “how it shall be taught.” A
school certainly cannot function in an atmosphere of
anarchy.

 Thus, there can be no doubt that the establishment of an


educational institution requires rules and regulations
necessary for the maintenance of an orderly educational
program and the creation of an educational environment
conducive to learning. Such rules and regulations are equally
necessary for the protection of the students, faculty, and
property (Angeles v. Sison, 112 SCRA 26, 37 [1982]).
 Moreover, the school has an interest in teaching the student discipline, a
necessary, if not indispensable, value in any field of learning. By instilling discipline,
the school teaches discipline. Accordingly, the right to discipline the student
likewise finds basis in the freedom “what to teach.”

 Incidentally, the school not only has the right but the duty to develop discipline in
its students. The Constitution no less imposes such duty.

 [All educational institutions] shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love
of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes
in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of
citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and
personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific
and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency (Section 3[2],
Article XIV, Constitution).
May a university validly revoke a degree or
honor it has conferred to a student after the
graduation of the latter after finding that such
degree or honor was obtained through fraud?
 In Garcia v. Faculty Admission Committee, Loyola School of
Theology (68 SCRA 277 [1975]), the SC pointed out that academic
freedom of institutions of higher learning is a freedom granted to
“institutions of higher learning” which is thus given a “wide sphere of
authority certainly extending to the choice of students.” If such
institution of higher learning can decide who can and who cannot
study in it, it certainly can also determine on whom it can confer
the honor and distinction of being its graduates.

 Where it is shown that the conferment of an honor or distinction was


obtained through fraud, a university has the right to revoke or
withdraw the honor or distinction it has thus conferred. This freedom
of a university does not terminate upon the “graduation” of a
student, for it is precisely the “graduation” of such a student that is
in question. (UP Board of Regents v. Hon. Court of Appeals and
Arokiaswamy William Margaret Celine, G.R. No. 134625, Aug. 31,
1999, 2nd Div. [Mendoza])
What are the essential freedoms subsumed in
the term “academic freedom”?
In Ateneo de Manila University v. Capulong (G.R. No.
99327, 27 May 1993), this Court cited with approval
the formulation made by Justice Felix Frankfurter of
the essential freedoms subsumed in the term
“academic freedom” encompassing not only “the
freedom to determine x x x on academic grounds
who may teach, what may be taught (and) how it
shall be taught,” but likewise “who may be admitted
to study.” We have thus sanctioned its invocation by
a school in rejecting students who are academically
delinquent (Tangonan v. Pano, 137 SCRA 245 [1985]),
or a laywoman seeking admission to a seminary
(Garcia v. Loyola School of Theology, 68 SCRA 277
[1975]), or students violating “School Rules on
Discipline.” (Ateneo de Manila University v.
THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE COURSE OF
STUDY VS. BOARD EXAM
 While it is true that this Court has upheld the constitutional right of every
citizen to select a profession or course of study subject to fair, reasonable
and equitable admission and academic requirements, the exercise of this
right may be regulated pursuant to the police power of the State to
safeguard health, morals, peace, education, order, safety and general
welfare. Thus, persons who desire to engage in the learned professions
requiring scientific or technical knowledge may be required to take an
examination as a prerequisite to engaging in their chosen careers. This
regulation assumes particular pertinence in the field of medicine, in order
to protect the public from the potentially deadly effects of incompetence
and ignorance [Professional Regulation Commission v. De Guzman, G.R.
No. 144681, June 21, 2004].