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In what is seen by many as a severe blow to academic freedom, a newly drafted regulation suggested by Turkeyand’s Higher Education Board (YandOK) will pave the way for the closure of private universities.
The draft, posted on the YandOK website on Friday to be discussed by academic circles, proposes the closure of private universities and”that become a focal point for activities against the stateand’s indivisible integrity.and”
The draft regulation poses a danger for private universities which are run by foundations that are critical of the government. These universities could lose their academic independence and be placed under the academic, administrative and financial supervision of YandOK trustees if the draft is approved.
The draft comes amid increasing concerns over growing restrictions on fundamental rights in Turkey. Following a government-backed decision made on Oct. 26 by the controversial Ankara 5th Criminal Court of Peace, a number of trustees accompanied by police arrived on Wednesday morning at the Istanbul office of the ipek Media Group, a subsidiary of Koza ipek Holding.
The takeover of the management of Koza ipek Holdingand’s 22 companies, including critical TV stations Bugandun TV and Kanaltandurk, as well as two newspapers, came just days before Turkey was set to have a repeat parliamentary election on Nov. 1. The move has intensified concerns about the deteriorating state of freedom of entrepreneurship and freedom of the press in Turkey.
Despite a large crowd of demonstrators outside the headquarters of ipek Media Group in Istanbul, the trustees forcibly entered the building with riot police and succeeded in cutting the broadcast of the Bugandun and Kanaltandurk TV channels.
Koza ipek Holding also owns ipek University in Ankara.
According to Rifat Saricaoilu, the head of the Union of Foundation Universities and head of the board of trustees for Bilgi University, the draft regulation threatens the financial autonomy of private universities. and”Trusts and private initiatives invest in private universities therefore, the draft threatens investments in private education,and” he told Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday.
Underlining that YandOK is an institution that was created by a military junta regime in the 1980s, Union of Academic Personnel (andOGESEN)hairman Vahdet andOzkoandcak told Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday that the draft is against the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
According to andOzkoandcak, the draft intends to take over private universities by appointing caretaker trustees to the board of trustees of the universities. and”The ungainly structure of YandOK will be more complicated if the draft regulation is approved,and” andOzkoandcak said.
Also speaking with Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday, former andcanakkale March 18 University (andcOMandu) rector, Professor Sedat Laandciner, also underlined that the draft aims to change private universities into state universities. According to Laandciner, the legislation will interfere in the administration of universities founded by the groups critical of the government and aims for universities to be uniformly in line with the government.
Laandciner said that the draft regulation has articles to ease the closure of the private universities that go beyond the scope of YandOK, which promotes a centrist administration of the universities.
Union of Active Educators (Aktif Eiitim-Sen)hairman Osman Bahandce also says the draft seeks to wipe out institutions owned by critical groups. Bahandce told Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday that the government is making unlawful changes to the regulations in order to silence dissident voices and is using state institutions as a tool.
Condemning the proposed regulation that some say appears to aim for absolute state control over universities, Bahandce said that there are thousands of problems in university education that need to be addressed by YandOK however, YandOK is targeting universities which offer a quality education and social facilities to their students.

SOURCE: TODAY”S ZAMAN

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