Overhaul of Turkish institutions shelved

November 14, 2003

The Turkish government has shelved plans to assume direct control of universities and dismiss their rectors and deans after a wave of criticism from academics and the media.

The Islamic-based government's proposals were seen as an attempt to undermine the secular education system. Eight rectors opposed to the move held meetings with a senior general from the Turkish army. The army, the guardian of secularism, has unseated three governments since 1960. It is deeply suspicious of the current administration.

Rectors will now submit their own reforms to the ministry of education by the end of the year.

Late last month, 40,000 students and academic staff took to the streets in Ankara to protest at the reforms. But a banner bearing the slogan "Army do your duty" created dissent among opponents of the plans.

Nusret Aras, rector of Ankara University, said: "I did not approve of the banners and wanted them to be brought down."

Kemal Guruz, head of the autonomous higher education body, Yok, also disassociated himself. "The banners belonged to a marginal group - Turkish universities do not approve of such banners."

The government remains committed to ending a ban on religious headscarves in universities. The ban was part of legislation to protect secularism by forbidding religious dress in state buildings.

It extends to visiting academics. Samira Moosa of Sultan Qaboos University in Oman was barred from attending an international symposium at Istanbul University because of her headscarf.

Dr Moosa said: "It gives me more pain because this is a Muslim country."

The university refused to apologise but issued a statement: "We did not realise she was a woman, otherwise she would not have been invited."

Please login or register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments


Featured jobs

Lecturer in Psychology

St Marys University, Twickenham

Admissions and Applicant Services Advisor

Royal Holloway, University Of London

Coach, Data Analyst

Bpp University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology

United Arab Emirates University

Principal Program Manager, Engineering/Science

Nanyang Technological University