‘Meeting on Mission Differentiation and Specialization in the Global Competition Environment’ Takes Places at CoHE

January 16, 2018 / Ankara


The ‘Meeting on Mission Differentiation and Specialization in the Global Competition Environment' took place with the participation of CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç. The current situation of the Turkish higher education system in the international arena and future plans were discussed in the meeting.


The "Subject-based Achievement Awards", which were awarded to 10 universities for the first time after the evaluation of their international competitiveness in 24 equivalent or different subjects, were announced and CoHE members, rectors of Turkish universities, administrators of some universities abroad and officials from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) attended the meeting.


CoHE President Saraç delivered a speech at the opening of the meeting, in which the results of the collaborative study with the QS officials on the determination of the subjects that Turkish universities could compete in the international arena, were discussed.


He said that the Council of Higher Education requested from the QS Group to conduct a study to determine the subjects that Turkish universities could compete on an international scale the previous year and emphasized that the officials from the QS Turkey Country Office found out the subjects that Turkish universities could compete in an international level by checking out the outcomes of the universities in 46 subjects and determined the universities that were active in those subjects.


He noted that 10 universities were evaluated for international competitiveness in 24 equivalent or different subjects and said that the awards would be presented to universities according to the results.


He emphasized that the serious problems that have arisen in the region and in the world have laid the foundation for political conflicts between countries, immigration, the change of demographic structures and the quality of education as well as the damage towards equal opportunity in education and said, "Therefore, universities need to include their works such as the development of intercultural understanding and inclusion of ethical values in society in their main duty, which is the production of knowledge, and their classical core missions."


He underlined that the change is difficult yet necessary and said:


"All the changes that we have planned and implemented in higher education are due to the need for a quality leap in higher education. That is how we will reach our goals for 2013 by working with determination in a planned and systematical manner in the next five years. As you are well aware, the number of Turkish universities have reached 184 in 2018. 32% of these universities are in Istanbul and 14% of them are in the east of Ankara. The number of academic staff in Istanbul is 30 thousand and the number of teaching staff in the nine provinces of the Southeastern Anatolian Region is 7,500. These figures are among the most important indicators we attach importance to while making changes in the system.


Therefore, we must work without ignoring the real situations while taking decisions and making changes. Change and transformation require serious focus, vision and discipline. I am sure we all agree on this.


Universities in the world pay attention to different characteristics according to their own goals. For example, we can see that one university requires all its students to have international experience, while another one requires engineering, mathematics and physics students to receive degrees from humanities and social sciences. It is because becoming a more successful leader in the subject depends on the place where the main disciplines stand in society. It is possible to give more interesting examples for different regions."


President Saraç noted that they did not expect or approve Turkish universities to be the same, similar to the universities abroad and said, "Our universities can reveal their missions through their new systems by preserving and improving quality persistently. All decisions we take as the new CoHE could indeed be explained as CoHE delegating its authority to universities. In other words, the concept of decentralization, which has been demanded for many years, was realized with the new CoHE. We are planning to make a gradual transition with these studies to a competitive higher education system on a local and global scale."


He laid emphasis on the changing roles of all universities in the last 10 years, the new additions to their core missions, their contributions to regional development and local economy, their roles and contributions especially in the underdeveloped and critical regions of countries and their suggestions and selections in smart specialization would be among the most talked-about topics in 2018.


He concluded his speech by extending his thanks to all guests for their participation, emphasizing that CoHE had been carrying out a disciplined and focused change by working intensively with the ministers of Science, Industry and Technology, Development, Finance and National Education in person and the officials from these ministries.


Click here to read the full transcript of the speech made by CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç. (In Turkish)


After the opening speech, the presentations about the current status the Turkish Higher Education System and its position in the global environment were presented to the participants.


Prof. Dr. Hasan Mandal, General Assembly Member of the Council of Higher Education and President of Sabancı University, made a presentation entitled "Global Trends, Challenges and Opportunities: Evaluation of the Turkish Higher Education Ecosystem (Mission Differentiation and Specialization)". Prof. Dr. David Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, made a presentation entitled "Using International Criteria to Determine the University Strategy". Jacques De Champchesnel, Acting Head of QS Consulting Unit, made a presentation entitled "Sustainable Partnership and Cooperation".


After the presentations, Prof. Dr. Ural Akbulut, URAP Coordinator, moderated a panel entitled "How to Improve the Performance of Turkish Universities in the Globalizing World?", in which Prof. Dr. Hasan Mandal, CoHE member, Prof. Dr. Orhan Aytür, Vice Rector of Bilkent University, Prof. Dr. David Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, Prof. Dr. Alper Ünal, Vice Rector of Istanbul Technical University, and Prof. Dr. Ahmet Gül, faculty member at Istanbul Technical University, participated as panelists.


The participants and panelists had a question and answer session in which they discussed the current problems by exchanging views and suggestions on the topic.


After the panel, CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç presented the certificates of the Achievement Awards to the rectors of ten universities, which were entitled to receive the "Subject-based Achievement Awards".


Ankara University, Bilkent University, Boğaziçi University, Ege University, Hacettepe University, Istanbul University, Istanbul Technical University, Koç University, Middle East Technical University and Sabancı University received the awards.