CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç: "As the new CoHE, we are proud that our legal proposals were adopted"
July 1, 2017
CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç:
Important regulations which have been expected in the Turkish higher education for some time but could not been realized for many years were published today in the Official Gazette with the approval of the President of the Republic of Turkey. These regulations will lead our universities to a more competitive environment at all levels, place quality in the center of growth in higher education, ensure that CoHE will take decisions in a more open and sharing manner after transferring some of its authority, promote the process of producing knowledge and training researchers and develop the relations between Turkish universities and the business world. In this way, Turkey will make a leap in higher education."
We are happy. As the new CoHE, we are proud that our legal proposals were adopted. We define these organizational changes as silent revolution in higher education.
Here are the changes that have come with the regulation:
1) A quality board was established: The evaluation for the quality process of higher education institutions in developed countries is carried out through independent quality agencies that have administrative and financial autonomy. With this legislative regulation, a quality board which is autonomous in terms of administration and finance will be established in a structure similar to the quality agencies we compete with in the world. This amendment will result in the transfer of CoHE's authority on output control and accreditation to the newly established Quality Board.
2) Currently, Turkish universities are almost identical. With this regulation, CoHE will be entrusted the task of carrying out studies towards making Turkish universities specialize according to the needs of Turkey and the region in the global competition and coordinating the process. (The new CoHE has already initiated the process.)
3) "Unemployed graduates" and the lack of workforce in the fields needed in Turkey will be among the priority topics in the near future. The board that will be formed within the scope of this regulation will allow the quota planned by CoHE to become more rational and participatory after the opinions of public and private sector stakeholders are taken.
4) Although there is a greater need for competent people in Turkey, there has not been enough focus on vocational schools and their programs that will satisfy the need. The board that will be established with this legislative regulation will also have members from external stakeholders and the industry.
5) Even though the profiles of those who were trained in vocational schools are mostly industry and business-oriented, these schools have poor relations with the business world. With the new legislative regulation, vocational schools will be encouraged to be opened in organized industrial zones.
6) The majority of the students, especially those studying in science and engineering sciences at universities, tend to work in industry after graduation but those students have difficulties during the employment process after graduation because they do not acquire enough skill-based competencies while training. With this legislative regulation, students will be encouraged to train at workplaces for one semester. In this way, graduates with a high level of competence will be able to work in the business world and universities will also be able to develop cooperation with the business world.
7) No payment could be made to human resources which are of great importance in terms of global competition even though the budget of the Scientific Research Projects (BAP) is spent on equipment and consumables only under the current law and regulations. With this legislative regulation, scholarships will be offered to students doing masters with thesis and doctoral students who will take part in scientific research projects. In this way, both our capacity of researchers and our capacity in scientific research production will increase.
8) Faculty members are needed not only in the newly established universities but also in all universities in the priority areas. With this legislative regulation, it will be possible for retired faculty members to work under annual contracts until the age of 75 in case departments are in need of academic staff and universities request for academic staff.
9) Within the scope of Turkey's goals for 2023, the production of project-based knowledge in universities, transformation of knowledge into technology and commercialization of technology are of great importance especially during the development of high technology products. This legislative regulation will allow Turkish universities to establish technology transfer companies that are in the same status as equity companies. It will make a significant contribution to the development of cooperation among Turkish universities, the business world and the industry.
10) Academics go on sabbatical leave after their 6th year in developed and rapidly-developing countries. This process contributes both to the progress of the careers of faculty members and to the development of institutional cooperation. With this legislative regulation, sabbatical leave will also be implemented in Turkish universities. This will enable Turkish higher education institutions to increase their research capacities as well as national and international cooperation.
11) There are flexible career development profiles focused on research for the purpose of allowing people to work as postdoctoral researchers after the completion of their postdoctoral studies in developed and rapidly developing countries. With this legislative regulation, postdoc practices will also be implemented in Turkish universities. The research capacities of Turkish higher education institutions will be increased and it will be possible to train more people with doctorate degrees which is among the primary targets of Turkey.
12) Although being a research assistant is the most important stage of an academic career, a significant part of research assistants continue to work as research assistants in the same institution throughout their entire careers. This situation, called "inbreeding", affects the performance of both individuals and institutions negatively. With this regulation, a performance-oriented approach will be introduced.
I hope these regulations which have been expected for the Turkish higher education system for decades will be beneficial to the Turkish academia. On behalf of the academia, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, Turkish government, Grand National Assembly of Turkey and especially the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology for including our suggestions in the Production Reform Package.
We have successfully completed the first stage. As the new CoHE, we have started to work on the second package for structural change."