European Higher Education Area

International Prize for Fundamental Academic Values awarded for the first time

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD) has presented the ‘Fundamental Academic Values Award’ for the first time. It recognises three early career researchers from Austria, Lithuania and Germany whose work is making an outstanding scientific contribution to the promotion of fundamental academic values, including academic freedom, integrity and autonomy in the European Higher Education Area. The award is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Die Preisträgerinnen des Fundamental Academic Values Award 2022: Dr. Elizaveta Potapova, Janika Spannagel und Dr. Milica Popović (v.l.)

"Academic freedom and university autonomy are indispensable building blocks for a free, democratic society. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is vehemently committed to these fundamental academic values, and has been since the beginning of the Bologna Process, also in the European Higher Education Area. For example, we decisively promoted the Rome Communiqué, in which the Bologna Ministerial Conference 2020 clearly committed itself to the basic academic values. Especially in these challenging times, we are sending a clear signal for academic freedom and also for Europe with the new Fundamental Values Award. I warmly congratulate the prize winners Janika Spannagel, Dr Elizaveta Potapova and Dr Milica Popović," said Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger.

"The European Higher Education Area is a safe haven in challenging times, because the commitment to fundamental civil and academic rights is a fundamental part of its self-image. As a community of values, it also provides an excellent basis for young people to build a European identity. By awarding the Fundamental Values Prize for the first time, the DAAD is consciously focusing on the importance of fundamental academic values for the European Higher Education Area. I therefore warmly congratulate the young female academics from three European countries and encourage them to continue on their European path," said DAAD President Professor Joybrato Mukherjee.

The fundamental academic values award goes to Janika Spannagel (Free University of Berlin, Germany, first place), Dr Elizaveta Potapova (Public Policy and Management Institute, Lithuania, second place) and Dr Milica Popović (Central European University, Austria, third place). Depending on their place, the award winners respectively receive prize money of 7,000, 6,000 or 5,000 euros. They are also invited to present their work at next year's DAAD Conference. The festive award ceremony is planned for 2023.

A portrait of the award winners

Janika Spannagel uses her publication ‘The Perks and Hazards of Data Sources on Academic Freedom: An Inventory’ to grapple with new data sources relating to academic freedom, in particular the Academic Freedom Index and the growing demand for qualitative case studies regarding the situation in terms of academic freedom in individual countries. Her publication offers an Inventory of the most important data sources available in relation to the state of academic freedom.

Dr Elizaveta Potapova uses her article ‘Speaking Up at Work: Narrative Analysis of Academic Freedom in Russia’ to examine the issue of academic freedom in modern Russia. She considers academic freedom as a constituent part of the professional identity of academic staff positioned in a system of relationships with students, colleagues, the university administration and the state.

Dr Milica Popović uses her publication ‘Changing Understandings of Academic Freedom in the World at a Time of Pandemic’ to investigate developments in the understanding of academic freedom during the prevalence of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021. This publication offers a systematic insight into new, sometimes contentious conceptions of academic freedom, and into attempts to redefine the term. 

Fundamental academic values in the European Higher Education Area

Fundamental academic values are an essential element of the European Higher Education Area. They include academic freedom and integrity, autonomy within higher education, the participation of lecturers and students in governance of higher education institutions, and higher education’s social responsibility. These values are to be promoted by all member states, as most recently reaffirmed at the Bologna Conference in Rome in November 2020 by the responsible ministers of member states in the European Higher Education Area.


DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service