This study examines the relationship between institutional autonomy and the security of higher education institutions from violent and coercive attacks. The paper includes a review of the limited literature available, as well as a series of examples illustrating different forms of attacks. These include arrests related to classroom content in Zimbabwe, sectarian divisions in Iraq, impunity for murders of academics in Pakistan, and physical intimidation on campuses in Tunisia. The study suggests that institutional autonomy plays a direct and indirect protective function. It directly helps protect systems of higher education from government interference, making it more difficult for states to act as perpetrators. It also indirectly helps preserve higher education against actual and perceived politicization and ideological manipulation, which in turn might help insulate it from attacks by nonstate parties. The study suggests a framework for examining questions of autonomy and security which in turn suggests a need to develop strategies aimed at increasing autonomy and security simultaneously. This necessarily requires approaches aimed at encouraging states to fulfill their obligations not to engage in or to be complicit in attacks (negative obligations) and obligations to protect higher education from attack and to deter future attacks by holding perpetrators accountable (positive obligations). The study concludes with brief recommendations on how different stakeholders might work to encourage greater understanding and implementation of these obligations, including further research, expert roundtables and information-sharing, development of guidelines and related advocacy campaigns.

According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.

The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.

The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.