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Ankara Univerity Face Market and State Regulation

By Aytül Kasapoğlu, Ankara University

The University of Ankara  was established in 1946 and comprises faculties of Law, Letters, Science, Medicine, Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Divinity, Political Sciences, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Educational Sciences, Communication, Health Education and Engineering.

Located in the capital of Turkey, it is a comprehensive state university with 44,952   students (10,557 graduate students), and 3624 members of academic staff as of January 2010. It has 15 faculties,13 vocational schools, eight institutes, 30 libraries and full text access to 22,000 publications via e-journals.

Higher Education in Turkey comprises State universities (including Ankara University) and Foundation (private) Universities.  The Higher Education Council (YÖK) was established in 1981 as a central regulatory body responsible for the planning, coordination and supervision of Higher Education within the framework laid down in the Constitution and the Higher Education Law. The establishment of new Faculties, is subject to parliamentary control, on the recommendation of YÖK. Creating new, or closing and merging old, departments and programs requires YÖK permission. In addition, there are three other administrative bodies; the Inter-University Council (UAK), the Turkish University Rectors Committee (TURK) and the Higher Education Supervisory Board. These parastatal bodies combine with government ministries to infringe upon university autonomy. Following new regulations introduced by YÖK in 2005 for “Academic Evaluation and Quality Improvement in Higher Education Institutions” UAK appointed a Council (YÖDEK) which outlined the basic requirements for internal academic evaluation and self assessment which are intended to form the basis of a national accreditation system – a system which does not exist at the moment.

Article 130 of the Constitution defines all Higher Education as a public service and therefore State institutions are supported through public funding but viamechanisms defined by the Ministry of Finance. In 2003 the Public Financial Management and Control Law 5018 was approved and in 2006 this began to have an impact on Universities. We are still assessing its likely influence with some optimism that the allocation of budgets will free up room to maneuver, which to date has been limited. Currently the number of academic and administrative post within universities is determined by the Government. Appointments to senior positions, such as Faculty Deans are only on the recommendationof the Rector. The number of Vice Rectors is restricted to three. The line management of all administrative units, through the Office of the General Secretary, is to be standardized. Admissions to Universities are to be organized centrally through the ÖSYM (Student Selection and Placement Centre) based on scores from the national Student Selection Examinations (ÖSS) and Universities will not be able to control the number of students entering their programs.

This close regulation is not conducive to the development of an innovative and dynamic institution of higher education. As a signatory of the Bologna process the government controls the allocation of human sources as well as costs and revolving funds. At present the taxation system appropriates 50% of earned income through revolving funds.

Administrators are appointed as follows:  

  • The Rector (head of university) is appointed by the President
  • Vice Rectors are appointed by the Rector
  • Deans are recommended by the Rector but appointed by YÖK
  • The General Secretary is appointed by the Rector
  • Directors of Graduate Schools are appointed by the Rector
  • Heads of Research Centers are appointed by the Rector

Candidates for Rector of the University are nominated to YÖK through election. The Council considers six names and forwards three to the Turkish President for final determination.

Within the university the Senate is the key committee for developing academic policy.

Strong state control of higher education has become the major external constraint on Ankara University. The allocation of human resources and their reallocation for new purposes are outside the control of university management. There is a bureaucratic assignment of posts instead of posts being based on performance evaluation. This system causes a loss of scientific initiative and creativity. There is the evidence that decreasing salaries has badly affected the structure, motivation and performance of academic staff. The proportion of young academic staff is dramatically declining. The lack of flexibility in budget spending together with investment rules further constrains university autonomy. The overall organization of education and research becomes too complex and bureaucratic. Since the faculties are dispersed among five campuses there is an inefficient duplication academic and administrative services.

According to a recent report on “strategies for marketization,” YÖK plans to decrease the “cost of higher education” by increasing the number of students, and replacing free university education with fee-paying students. “Paid higher education and the commodification of knowledge” is now a slogan of the new management strategy. There are plans afoot to differentiate universities “according to the needs of capital” and that the university should be open to the influence of business. YÖK is now calling on universities to adapt themselves to the production of both “cheap and highly skilled labor.”

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