Istanbul Technical University has secured a court order to evict more than 50,000 people to make way for a science park.
The site is occupied by migrants - mostly Kurdish - who have moved to Istanbul over the past 20 years.
Many migrants have built homes in squatter settlements on unused land.
Successive governments have issued amnesties granting them the right to remain.
But ITU has won an eviction order to clear 10,000 houses, prompting clashes between homeowners and the police and protests on university campuses. The university authorities have refused to back down.
Memduh Karakullukcu, an academic acting as an adviser to ITU's rector, Faruk Karadogan, told The Times Higher that there could be no turning back.
"It is a critical project. To keep apace with university development you have to have a science park - 21st-century universities are about research, education and innovation."
Asked about the fate of the 50,000 inhabitants, he said: "This is our land, and we have the right to use it to help transform the country. We have gone through the courts, and I believe we will complete the project."