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Erdogan Tightens Grip on Higher Education Institutions

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a decree stripping much of the country’s Council of Higher Education's (YOK) supervisory power, giving himself the sole authority to appoint university rectors. Under the state of emergency rule, Erdogan had dissolved the election procedures of rectors in institutions of higher education. According to the presidential decree issued after the end of two-year state of emergency, the requirement for university rectors to have previously held the position of professor has been removed.

The latest decree caused the country’s science and technology research institute (TUBITAK) to lose a great portion of its executive remit to Erdoğan’s palace upon the introduction of a full presidential system in Turkey.

Establishments such as the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) and Bogazici University are considered bastions of secular modernity and have clashed with Erdoğan’s more Islamist thinking.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the professional retaliation against higher education institutions and academics in Turkey in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom and to free expression and association, conduct that is expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Turkey is party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale. We urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the academic freedom of scholars.


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