Completing its 39th Year, CoHE Launches New Projects that will Lead the Scientific Life

November 6, 2020

As the Council of Higher Education, which was criticized for being the “legacy of September 12” and for having authority and control over universities in the past, leaves 39 years behind, it is getting ready to actualize innovative works that prioritize quality and merit at universities with the motto “New CoHE”.   

CoHE was established by the Higher Education Law No. 2547 published on November 6, 1981 after it was prepared by the National Security Council, which was established following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état.

Bringing all Turkish higher education institutions under the same roof, the Council of Higher Education has been carrying out works and working as a coordinator with 207 universities, around 8 million students and 175 thousand academic staff.

Prof. İhsan Doğramacı, Prof. Mehmet Sağlam, Prof. Kemal Gürüz, Prof. Erdoğan Teziç, Prof. Yusuf Ziya Özcan and Prof. Gökhan Çetinsaya were the past presidents of the Council.

Prof. Yekta Saraç, who was appointed as Acting President on November 6, 2014 and as President on November 11, 2014, is the current President of the Council of Higher Education. Since taking office, Saraç has made many structural changes with the philosophy of the “New CoHE” in order to leave the "old image of CoHE” behind. It was noted that the question of “Why is CoHE not meddling in universities about these issues?” started to be asked rather than the question of “Why is CoHE meddling in universities?" during this period. The process is now managed through the delegation of authority instead of the constant intervention in universities.

As CoHE includes merit and transparency into its new mission and vision, it has been carrying out new and innovative works that prioritize quality in many fields such as the establishment of Higher Education Quality Board, Mission Differentiation and Specialization in Higher Education Project, CoHE 100/2000 PhD Project, Goal-Oriented Internationalization, University-Industry Collaboration, Digital Transformation, Open Science and Open Access Project, Future Professions Project, CoHE Virtual Laboratory, CoHE-Future Project that prioritizes merit and critical fields in academia, and the CoHE-Anatolia Project.

With the appointment of Yekta Saraç, the creator of the motto "New CoHE", the Council first drew attention with the transfer of some of its powers to universities. During this period, structural changes that had not been dared before in higher education were implemented. The establishment of the Higher Education Quality Board that is completely independent of CoHE is one of the most important changes.  

New changes were also implemented with the projects of Mission Differentiation Aimed at Regional Development and Research-oriented Specialization Project initiated by the New CoHE. Within the scope of the project carried out in two groups, namely “Universities Aimed at Regional Development” and “Research Universities”, the annual reports on the performance results of research universities started to be shared with the public for "transparency".

CoHE, which has been carrying out a series of actions aimed at increasing the quality at foundation universities, has imposed obligation on foundation universities to allocate R&D budgets and train faculty members. The “Annual Monitoring and Evaluation Report for Universities” and “Foundation Higher Education Institutions Report” started to be published for the first time in the history of higher education.


- Over 5 thousand PhD holders are trained in fields needed by Turkey

The Council of Higher Education attaches great importance to scholarship programs based on success, the most notable being the "CoHE 100/2000 PhD Scholarship Program", which was initiated by the New CoHE with the slogan "Training Powerful Generations for the Next Decade" and grants doctoral scholarships in 100 priority fields to 2 thousand students in each call.

The number of students in this program has exceeded 5,000 as of this year. In addition, the CoHE Research Scholarship for Doctoral Studies Abroad (YOK-YUDAB) has taken its place among the most important scholarship projects.

Scientists that are taught by special teachers according to special curricula are trained specifically for the country in the Honors Classes of CoHE Fundamental Science Programs (YOK-TEBIP) and they are supported with CoHE Achievement Scholarships.

CoHE has also created a one-of-a-kind scholarship program for international students. According to the program, students, who received education in Turkey, will serve for five years in public institutions after returning to their home country. 

- Record increase in the number of international students

CoHE’s goal-oriented plans in internationalization have also started to bear fruit. After the preparation of the “Strategy Document for Internalization in Higher Education”, the number of international students from 182 countries has exceeded 200 thousand. It was noted that this increase rate had not been observed in any European country in the last three years.

Some decisions were taken to ensure that the global coronavirus pandemic would not adversely affect the international student flow to the country. CoHE organized a virtual higher education fair entitled “Study in Turkey YÖK Virtual Fair 2020”. Visitors from 165 countries had the opportunity to meet with the representatives of higher education institutions and get detailed information in a virtual environment without paying any fees at the fair held on 20-22 July 2020. A similar virtual fair with the name “Discover Your University YÖK Virtual Fair 2020” was organized for prospective students and their parents.

- "Silent revolution" in university-industry collaboration

Arrangements for university-industry cooperation were also realized under the name "Silent Revolution”. Accordingly, vocational schools were opened in organized industrial zones and workplace-based training was promoted. In addition, arrangements were made to support graduate students as scholarship holders in scientific research projects and to establish technology transfer offices that are classified as stock corporations at universities. CoHE-Aselsan PhD Programs (Aselsan Academy) were also initiated.

CoHE also continues to implement innovative initiatives, projects and arrangements in higher education. It has been carrying out some policies under the following topics: Employment of postdoctoral researchers (Post-doc), sabbatical leave, employment of retired academics under contract, new developments in equivalence and recognition, studies on barrier-free education and access in higher education, CoHE Excellence Awards, establishment of Advisory Board for Higher Education Programs and Coordination Board for Vocational Schools, and Preservation of the Academic Heritage in the Middle East Project.


- Digital Transformation at Universities

CoHE has recently realized innovative initiatives on higher education on the digital platform. It has also carried out some works on digital system and data sharing. Services such as online application for equivalence, CoHE Atlas, CoHE Academic, National Thesis Center, e-registration system for universities, CoHE Career, and CoHE mobile applications were also launched.

- Open Science and Open Access

As a result of a series of arrangements made with the works on "Open Science and Open Access" under the "Digitalized CoHE", significant progress has been made in open science and open access. CoHE continues to work on the “Software Project for CoHE Open Science System".

- CoHE’s works on coronavirus measures

The Council of Higher Education launched the "CoHE Courses Platform", which was made available to university students according to the measures for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the content of this platform was offered for free through the 6 GB internet data for distance education which was provided by mobile operators.

The “Committee on Distance Education Policies” was established under the Council of Higher Education with the participation of academics from different disciplines of various Turkish universities, who are experts in distance education.

CoHE prepared the "New Normalization Process in the Global Pandemic Guide” for the practices at universities during the pandemic, and published the “Guide for the Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic" in cooperation with the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) to create a healthy and clean environment on university campuses and to ensure hygiene conditions.

With the transition to distance education at universities in March due to the pandemic, the CoHE Virtual Laboratory Project was implemented as a solution for courses requiring laboratory applications.

- A new era with CoHE Future Project

In addition to the current procedures for the recruitment of academic staff at universities, the New CoHE introduced a new project called “CoHE Future Project”, which was initiated for the first time in the history of higher education, by taking into account transparency, merit and equal opportunity.

In this project, priority fields will be prioritized, not individuals. A central planning for the use of staff positions at state universities with different status will be made in accordance with the route the country is taking for development.

This project, which was designed by CoHE for future scientists, will consist of three stages.

The "Employment of Research Assistants in Priority Fields", the first stage of the project, was initiated with the recruitment of research assistants in interdisciplinary fields that are important in the development of the country. Additional positions were allocated to universities in this stage.  Universities carry out the procedures for the necessary conditions after they receive the permits for the advertisements.

Appointments to these positions will be carried out according to merit and by benefiting from the pool of academics in Turkey, rather than the pool of academics of a certain university.

With the appointment of research assistants in priority fields that will contribute to the reconstruction of the Turkish higher education system within the framework of merit and competence and the specialization of Turkish universities, a perceptible improvement is aimed in higher education in a short period of time.

The second stage of the project is called the "Employment of Faculty Members in Priority Fields". Critical technology fields were determined as priority and specific fields.

In this stage, universities were granted with additional permits for the appointment of academic staff (assistant professors, associate professors, and professors) in critical technology fields.

Additional 750 faculty positions were allocated to 77 universities in 18 critical technology fields. In other words, universities will be able to get additional 750 faculty members, in addition to their current academic staff permits. Thus, only departments with successful faculty members in the fields of critical technology that are important for the country are granted privileges due to their success. This stage allowed successful departments to be recognized by CoHE and to receive additional positions for the first time since the foundation of CoHE.

The “CoHE Career-Merit Project”, which will bring a new vision to the employment of academic staff at universities, will be the third stage of the project.

Qualified doctoral students and universities will be matched on a platform through a method that will be implemented for the first time in the country.

This project was designed for the employment of academics, researchers and scientists, who have completed their doctoral studies in the Turkish higher education system, in a more transparent and merit-oriented manner. The platform will be made available in the coming days.

- CoHE Anatolia Project 

The “CoHE Anatolia Project”, which aims to make up the deficiencies by matching the newly developing universities in Anatolia with the more developed ones, is planned to be implemented this month. 

Source: Anadolu Agency