- PRESS RELEASE -
PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF HIGHER EDUCATION
PROF. M. A. YEKTA SARAÇ:
In the face of the extraordinary situation that is happening on a global
scale and was declared as a pandemic by the World Health
Organization, CoHE acted quickly and our newly-established committees
started working on certain scenarios on the possible effects of this
process on education. Before the decision to suspend education in higher
education, some measures were sent to Turkish universities.
During this one-week period, a model was planned in order to carry out our
education and training activities as seamless as possible. The examples in
the world were also examined. The decisions taken by the higher education
authorities and universities of the countries where the epidemic is
present, the USA and European countries in particular, were evaluated.
On March 13, 2020, immediately after this suspension, we urgently asked
Turkish universities for information about their distance education
infrastructures and the status of their human resources. Advisory Commissions on Pandemic were established at
This process was planned quickly with the guidance ofour President to prevent the interruption of educational processes and
to overcome this period with minimal damage.
The Executive Board of the Council of Higher Education finalized the “Road
Map for Distance Education Practices During Pandemic” that was prepared by
the “ Commission on Digital Transformation in Higher Education”
formed under CoHE today, with members consisting of academics from
different universities, who are experts in their fields.
This road map provides a framework for distance learning activities to be
carried out to prevent the interruption of the learning processes of our
students during the break due to coronavirus measures. The following five basic areas were worked on in the road map:
With the arrangement of the legislation, we
provide universities that already have infrastructures for distance
education with distance education in all fields, only for this period, by
making significant changes in the Procedures and Principles for Distance
Education. For this purpose, a legislative amendment was made about
We evaluated the feedback we received from our universities on infrastructure. It is gratifying that most
Turkish universities have infrastructures for distance education. As is
123 Turkish universities have an UZEM (Distance Education Application
and Research Center)
. The needs of the universities, which are lacking in infrastructure, will
also be met in cooperation with other universities under the coordination
of CoHE. Our plans will be implemented immediately.
Most universities are quite experienced in the field of human resources. Under the Digital Transformation
Project, which we, as the New CoHE, initiated two years ago, over 6
thousand academic staff and over 50 thousand students were trained in the
newly-established universities. We have completed all our preparations to
offer the course
“Learning and Teaching in Higher Education in the Digital Age”,
which could be explained as the training of educators who will provide the
necessary competence to carry out these processes, with the help of digital
tools to all academic staff starting next week. In addition, some
universities have started to offer education to their academic staff at
creation is the most important element of distance education. The academic
staff at many universities are extremely experienced in content creation.
On top of that, we will also share tools and guides on content development
with the academic staff who are in need of support. All learning resources
prepared by our universities will be made available for use for distance
In order to meet the need for content, all online courses of Anadolu
University, Atatürk University and Istanbul University will be opened for
public use under the platform named
CoHE-Courses (Courses for Higher Education Institutions) established
next week and the online course materials of other universities will also
be added to this platform. As is known, the CoHE-Courses Project was
announced to the public as one of the goals of CoHE for 2020 in previous
months. Therefore, the preparations for this platform are also completed.
taken by a wide array of students will be broadcast on a TV channel that
TRT will allocate to CoHE in order to support the contents and increase the
diversity. We would like to thank the Presidential Communication Office and TRT
for their support.
As for practices, universities may use synchronous or
asynchronous distance education methods. Considering the difficulty of
synchronous practices in the current situation, it is estimated that
universities will focus on asynchronous practices especially in associate
degree and undergraduate programs, and CoHE will encourage synchronous
practices that provide more interaction.
It is planned to conduct the theoretical parts of applied courses through
distance education and to follow a tight schedule for application studies.
Our experience in this field gives us the opportunity to manage this
The assessment and evaluation of distance courses, in other words exams,
will be carried out by universities in a period appropriate for them,
provided that they comply with the schedule determined at the macro level.
It will be ensured that proficiency exams, thesis monitoring committees and
thesis defenses in postgraduate programs could be carried out in digital
environment, provided that universities create the necessary infrastructure
and “could register and audit them”.
In other words, the Council of Higher Education has determined the necessary road map during the
implementation of distance education at universities and allowed
universities to implement it in line with the competencies of universities
in the scope of the transfer of authority by drawing a framework
. The Council will continue to perform its effective coordination and
supervision duties in this process and new arrangements will be made as
needed. The fact that
CoHE has become an institution that has the high capacity to
make quick decisions
and perform agile management in recent years is a factor
that facilitates this process.
It is not possible to establish all structures that make higher education
efficient, effective and valuable in digital environment. Plus, although
the academic programs of our universities have a certain partnership in
terms of achievements, there is no single curriculum for university
education. However, not only our country, but also the whole world is going
through extraordinary times. These extraordinary times also necessitate the
use of new paths outside of the usual methods, without breaking this
process off from reality. We are aware that we have to guide this process,
not follow it.
With these steps that focus on partnerships and academic benefit, we aim to
share knowledge with various students, to evaluate the capacity and quality
of our open and distance education that have been active for many years,
and to prevent problems in education as much as possible.
However, the most important gain of this process in terms of the Turkish
higher education will be the solidarity and cooperation developed among our
universities during this extraordinary period the world and our country are
- In the face of the pandemic that started a while ago, we analyzed the
measures taken in higher education institutions of the countries where
the pandemic is present, evaluated our current capacity and finalized
- Distance education will start through digital facilities at all
universities that are capable of offering distance education on Monday,
- As for the universities that are not capable of offering distance
education, the pool of open course materials, which we have created in
a short period of time, will be opened to all universities on March 23.
- Digital facilities and distance education methods will be used in the
theoretical courses of application-based programs and applied courses
will be given at the most appropriate time, including the extension of
the schedule determined by our universities.
- The graduate level will also be allowed to follow a practice and
approach similar to the ones provided at Associate degree and
undergraduate level. Distance education and digital facilities will be
used provided that it is auditable and it will be ensured that there
will be no interruption during these processes.
The Turkish higher education system stands on a solid ground. As it became
evident after the July 15 coup attempt, it has the power to overcome
extraordinary situations. CoHE’s pursuit for a certain standard and quality
in education at all levels plays a big part in this.
We trust the competencies and abilities of Turkish universities.
As CoHE, we attach great importance to managing this process by taking
notice of the facts, not acting rashly and giving weight to the
decision-making mechanisms of Turkish universities. We believe that we will
overcome this challenging period.
We do not want our dear students and their valuable families to worry.
They can rest assured. We want our students to continue their education
alongside their families in a safe environment. It is very important for us
that they are healthy both physically and spiritually.