Situation Facing Turkish Universities Called 'Dire'

November 1, 2016

The European University Association on Monday issued a statement stating its support for Turkish higher education following on what it described as “further infringements on university autonomy and academic freedom” reflected in new decrees holding that university rectors will no longer be elected by academics, but rather appointed by Turkey’s president from a group of three candidates proposed by the country’s Council of Higher Education.

The association also noted with concern the news that another 1,267 academics have been dismissed from their positions.

Both developments are outlined in an article Sunday in the Hurriyet Daily News, which states that the dismissals were justified by the government on the grounds that the individuals affected were affiliated with terrorist organizations or groups.

Since a failed coup attempt in July, Turkey has ordered the closure of 15 private universities, forced the resignation of all of the country’s 1,577 university deans -- many of whom have since been restored to their positions, according to information learned by the EUA -- and dismissed thousands of academic staff. Some have been detained.

“It is not our role to get involved in political issues,” Rolf Tarrach, the association’s president, said, “but it is our role to understand and discuss their consequences for the universities, and we are afraid that they are very dire.”

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