New CoHE Implements New Projects and Arrangements in 2020

December 29, 2020

- “The New CoHE proceeds with its concrete actions, implemented projects, and arrangements with results rather than brilliant and sophisticated statements, prospective designs, highly rhetorical drafts, and intellectual statements on higher education.”

- “Since the New CoHE started to transfer its authority, it no longer deals with details. Instead of complaining about the current laws, it uses the potentials of the legislation in a rational manner. It has become an institution that makes and implements higher education policies by adopting a strong coordination-flexible management style."

- “We realized many projects such as the establishment of Higher Education Quality Board, Mission Differentiation and Specialization in Higher Education Project, YÖK 100/2000 PhD Project, Target-Oriented Internationalization, University-Industry Collaboration, Digital Transformation in Higher Education, Open Science and Open Access Project, Preservation of Academic Heritage in the Middle East Project, Future Professions Project, and YÖK Academic Project and shared the results of these works with the public. As the New CoHE, we added new projects in 2020.”

- "As the New CoHE, we believe that higher education should be an area of social consensus and we work for it."

- “We are a public institution and we serve the public. We attach importance to being accountable in a transparent way as per our understanding of serving the public. Therefore, we are sharing the highlights of the new and innovative initiatives and projects, which we have carried out outside of the routine work within our job description in 2020."

- “CoHE has changed. It has changed and renewed in every field with its goals, methods, notion of higher education, business manner and priorities. Now, the New CoHE is changing the Turkish higher education system.”

- We present you some of the projects and arrangements we realized as the New CoHE in 2020. We will continue to gradually restructure Turkish higher education according to our plans in 2021.”

Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç

President of the Council of Higher Education

1- A new era in employment of academics with “YÖK-Future Project”

In addition to the current procedures for the employment of academic staff at universities, the New CoHE introduced a new employment method with the “YÖK Future Project” by taking into account transparency, merit and equal opportunity. The project, which was designed for the first time in Turkey and started to be implemented in the last months of 2020, will consist of three stages:

a) Within the scope of the " Employment of Research Assistants in Priority Fields", the first stage of the project, additional positions were allocated to universities for the employment of research assistants in interdisciplinary fields that are important in the development of our country.

b) The second stage of the project was the “ Employment of Faculty Members in Priority Fields.” At this stage, the successful departments of universities in “critical technology fields”, which are determined as priority and specific fields, were matched with these fields. These universities were granted with additional permits for the appointment of academic staff in the fields known as “critical technologies” in the world.

While the additional permits for the appointments were limited due to it being the first implementation, YÖK Future Project stood out for being an example of the pursuit that prioritizes fields and needs, rather than individuals, and for paying attention to the inclusion of people at least 4 times the number of positions for each position in the system. The number of allocated positions will be increased in 2021.

c) The “YÖK 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. This project will be realized as the first project of the new year and it will be a different era in terms of the employment of academics at universities.

2- Opportunity to conduct experiments on computer at home with the “YÖK Virtual Laboratory Project”

The general chemistry and general physics laboratory courses in various programs of universities, especially in science and engineering faculties and vocational schools, started to be offered online with the “YÖK Virtual Laboratory Project”. At first, the project was offered to 15 thousand students at 24 universities that are a part of the Digital Transformation Project.

3- Online courses through “YÖK Courses Platform”

Within the scope of the "YÖK Courses Project", which was one of the goals of the New CoHE for 2020, the digital courses created by Anadolu University, Atatürk University, Istanbul University and Middle East Technical University were made available to university students on the platform “YÖK Courses Platform” (Courses for Higher Education Institutions). The content of these universities was offered through the 6 GB internet data for distance education which was provided for free by mobile operators.

4- Universities were added to “Mission Differentiation and Specialization Aimed at Regional Development Project”

The process for the determination of five universities and their fields of specialization for the title “Universities Aimed at Regional Development” under the “Specialization in Higher Education Project” was completed and the number of universities in the project rose to 15. Artvin Çoruh University was selected for “Medical and Aromatic Plants”, Bartın University was selected for “Smart Logistics and Integrated Regional Practices”, Hitit University was selected for “Machine and Manufacturing Technologies”, Kırklareli University was selected for “Food”, and Yozgat Bozok University was selected for “Industrial Hemp.”

5- Assessment reports on universities was published

a) The Council of Higher Education published the report “Foundation Higher Education Institutions 2020”, which includes the academic, administrative and financial data on Turkish foundation higher education institutions.

b) The Council of Higher Education (CoHE) announced the “University Monitoring and Assessment General Reports”, which contain a general assessment of 189 Turkish universities for 2020 and 172 Turkish universities for 2019 according to five main indicators and 45 sub-indicators.

c) The performance scorecards, in which the research and candidate research universities that were determined under the Specialization in Higher Education Project were evaluated and ranked, were announced to the public.

As the New CoHE, we attach importance to transparent data sharing to raise the quality bar and believe that public inspection is the most efficient inspection.

6- CoHE’s works on coronavirus measures

Turkish universities were asked to determine a vice rector to carry out the procedures related to coronavirus and a continuous and direct relationship was established between CoHE and universities. In addition, “ Coronavirus Committees” (KOVKOM) were established at universities.

As part of the COVID-19 measures, CoHE prepared the " New Normalization Process in the Global Pandemic Guide” for the practices at universities during the pandemic, 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) and with the contributions of the academics from different universities, and communicated these guides to universities.

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. The Council sent the decisions, which include a series of measures for students with disabilities when preparing online courses and contents for distance education as part of the coronavirus measures, to universities. The website “ Briefing on COVID-19” was opened to announce the works and decisions of CoHE that were made during the pandemic.

7- Turkish higher education system switched to hybrid (blended) education

The blended (hybrid) education model was introduced to Turkish higher education. The rate of courses that can be offered through distance learning in the programs at Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree level in formal education was increased from 30% to 40%. Thus, the structural transformation of the New CoHE in higher education moved to a different level after the implementation of the hybrid learning model which was implemented in many countries.

8- The rational quota policy continued to increase the occupancy rates significantly

As a result of the rational plans made by CoHE in the program quotas, the occupancy rates at universities after the placements according to the results of 2020-YKS has increased significantly in all subjects and categories and reached 95%. In parallel with this development, the number of unused quotas continued to decrease. The positive results of the YKS system has emerged as a result of the merge of the realities of Turkey and the universal practices.

9- New scholarship opportunities for students

This year, the scope of the YÖK Support Scholarship, which was given to programs such as basic sciences, agriculture and fisheries, was expanded and Philosophy was included in the scholarship program. It was decided that successful students, who chose these programs as one of their top 15 choices and are placed in the top three at state universities, would be awarded with the scholarship.

The protocol signed between CoHE and Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association (IMEA) aims to grant scholarships to successful students to attract them to the mining sector, to increase the number of internships and to provide employment to students after graduation. Within the scope of this cooperation, candidates started to receive scholarships up to the amount of the minimum wage according to their placements and preferences in the university exam. CoHE aims to increase the number of scholarships and employment opportunities by cooperating with other sectors next year.

10- The record increase in international student numbers allowed us to be in the top ten in the world

The plans that the New CoHE has done under its policy for “Target-Oriented Internationalization” for the first time in internationalization also continue to bear fruit. After the preparation of the first “Strategy Document for Internationalization in Higher Education”, the number of international students from 182 countries, who receive education in our country, has exceeded 200 thousand. It was noted that this record increase rate had not been observed in any European country in recent years. This figure is expected to exceed 220 thousand in 2021.

The success of the New CoHE on this issue was also recognized by UNESCO. According to the data of UNESCO for 2018, the number of international students in Turkey, which was 48 thousand 183 in 2014, increased by two and a half times and rose to 125 thousand 138 and Turkey was placed in the top 10 countries that attract the highest number of international students in the world . Turkey's share from the total number of international students has increased by 110% during the first four years of the New CoHE. This rate will be higher with the inclusion of the data for the last two years in the UNESCO reports for the next year.

11- Arrangements to attract qualified students to our country

Important arrangements were made to invite Turkish students studying abroad and international students to study in Turkey during the pandemic. The 50% limitation on the transfers from the programs of overseas universities, excluding the programs of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Law, Teaching, Engineering and Architecture, which require students to have academic standing for the entrance to higher education, was lifted and these programs were allowed to allocate quotas for transfers from overseas universities as many as the quotas for transfers from Turkish universities. CoHE provided convenience for the transfers from the universities that are ranked in the top 1,000 in the world university rankings with the aim of allowing qualified students to study in Turkey.

12- National and International Virtual Fairs

CoHE took some decisions to prevent the global pandemic from adversely affecting the international student flow to our country and organized the virtual higher education fair “ Study in Turkey YÖK Virtual Fair 2020”. Nearly 40 thousand visitors from 165 countries had the opportunity to meet with the representatives of higher education institutions in a virtual environment and get detailed information from them.

“Discover Your University YÖK Virtual Fair 2020” , a virtual fair similar to the one organized for international students, was held under the coordination of CoHE for prospective Turkish students and their parents with the participation of 200 higher education institutions.

13- “YÖK 100/2000 PhD Project”, a Turkey project, continues apace

Within the scope of the “YÖK 100/2000 PhD Project”, a Turkey project which was realized for the first time in the 2016-2017 academic year with the slogan “Training Powerful Generations for the Next Decade”, the number of students doing their doctorate in 100 priority fields needed by Turkey has reached 5 thousand as of this year.

Considering the new conditions and needs especially during the global pandemic, CoHE determined 22 pandemic-oriented fields by identifying the fields needed for the pandemic and announced the special call for YÖK 100/2000 PhD Scholarship for the pandemic . In the fight against the pandemic in our country, approximately 800 doctoral scholarship holders made a great contribution especially to the studies on vaccines and medicine in terms of trained manpower.

As CoHE added three new scientific fields, namely “energy storage”, “power electronics” and “motor technologies”, to the “YÖK 100/2000 PhD Project” to train people with doctorates that will be needed for the production of the project “Turkey’s Automobile”, it also included seven scientific fields, including submarine designs, legged and biomechanical robots, satellite design, and radar and stealth technologies, in the project to contribute to Turkey’s domestic and national technological move in the defense industry.

14- Digital Transformation in Higher Education

In recent years, CoHE has been carrying out works on digital system and open data sharing, and many innovative implementations have been implemented in the digital environment in the field of higher education. The digitalization works that were initiated by CoHE at universities before the pandemic were of great help for distance education.

Under the "Digitalization in Higher Education Project", the number of universities rose from 16 to 24 andover 60 thousand students and 10 thousand academic staff were trained for digital transformation.

As part of the cooperation in digital education between CoHE and Cisco, academics selected from 24 universities that are located in Anatolia and included in the “Digitalization in Higher Education Project” were awarded with certificates for completing their courses on cyber security and network management. The third phase of the project will continue with the addition of 30 universities from Anatolia.

In addition to the services offered by CoHE through the E-government Gateway, CoHE also started to work on a new system that will deliver transcripts issued by universities in a standard format.

15- Works on “Open Science and Open Access”

The New CoHE continues to work on “ Open Science and Open Access”. The works on Open Science and Open Access, which were initiated with the motto “Digitalized CoHE”, aim to establish the “National Academic Open Access System” at international standards at Turkish universities. The system will allow open access to researchers by ensuring the bibliographic audit of postgraduate theses, articles, books, conference proceedings, and other publications written as a result of scientific activities at Turkish universities.

16- Legal arrangements made in Higher Education Law with the initiative of CoHE

The bill, which was passed in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, is the second law package that includes structural changes related to higher education following the amendments that were adopted in the Production Reform Package in 2016 with the proposals of CoHE and were welcomed by the general public.

As a result of the removal of the limitation on the applications and exams for associate professorship to be made more than twice a year by law,the waiting period for associate professor candidates was shortened. Research assistants working under 50/d contract, who have completed their master's degree, were required to wait for a certain amount of time before they begin their doctoral studies or studies in proficiency in arts related to their fields. In order to prevent students from getting affected negatively during this process, they were allowed to keep their positions for another six months.

It was decided that a certain amount of the surplus income of the faculties of open education would be spent on the scholarships granted by CoHE to train people with doctoral degrees.

The disciplinary provisions were also rearranged in compliance with this law. Some acts that were considered as criminal acts according to the current disciplinary regulations were decriminalized and the sentences of some of these acts were reduced. Stiffer sentences were only limited to crimes related to plagiarism.

17- Important legal arrangements for foundation higher education institutions

The second law package consisting of legal changes about higher education also includes articles that meet the expectations of the community and the academic staff working at these universities. According to the package, the fees paid to academic staff working at foundation universities cannot be lower than their counterparts working at state universities .

Academic staff at Turkish foundation universities will be able to get a green passport on the condition that they complete a certain number of years of service. Trust funds will be introduced to foundation universities. The rate of the scholarships offered by foundation universities was increased from 10% to 15% by the decision of CoHE. With CoHE’s initiative, around 12 thousand more students had the opportunity to study for free at foundation universities compared to last year. These arrangements show the attitude of the New CoHE that gives importance to social justice and equal opportunities.

18- The collaboration model was introduced to the Turkish higher education system for the first time

Within the scope of the legal arrangement adopted with the initiative of the New CoHE, the first model in Turkish higher education that aims to make efficient use of public resources through the joint R&D efforts of the leading universities on strategic issues, was realized. Two or more universities will now be able to combine their human resources and infrastructure facilities into a single research and application center. This is a new structural change that the New CoHE has made in the higher education system. As a first step, " Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Center of Excellence" (NÖROM) was established for the R&D activities to be carried out with the cooperation of Gazi University, Ankara University and Middle East Technical University after the approval of CoHE.

19- New arrangements to pave way for research

CoHE made some fundamental changes in the Regulation on Scientific Research Projects (BAP), which it has been working on for a long time. According to these changes, experts from or outside of higher education institutions, who specialize in scientific research projects and have at least a PhD degree, could be paid fees for project evaluation. Cash or in-kind contribution could be transferred from BAP funds to scientific research projects supported by national or international institutions and organizations, provided that it does not exceed 30% of the project cost.

Project supports will be inserted into YÖKSİS to ensure effective, economic and efficient use of scientific research projects and fund transfers and to use the interest of the funds in the BAP budget for research. The responsibilities and audit rules for those who take part in scientific research projects were clearly defined.

20- Quality-oriented arrangements in the employment of international academics

CoHE completed the quality-oriented works related to international faculty members and sent the circular letter determining the “Procedures and Principles Regarding the Employment of International Academic Staff” to universities. According to the letter, international academic staff that are employed as foreign instructors in language preparatory classes of universities are required to have language teaching experience. In addition, it was decided that those who will teach in programs other than preparatory classes are required to have academic achievement and experience. The arrangement aims to bring research-oriented, competent scientists to Turkey during the employment of international academic staff.

21- The New CoHE continues to delegate its authority: “A historic decision for the curricula of education faculties”

Within the scope of the delegation of authority, which has been carried out by the New CoHE, the authority for the determination of courses, curricula and credits of the teaching undergraduate programs at the faculties of education/educational sciences were completely transferred to universities.

22- Incentives and support for the industrial education of science and engineering students

With the support and resources of the Government, 3,679 students enrolled in science and engineering undergraduate programs at 24 state universities were supported for industrial education for the fall semester of the 2019-2020 academic year.

23 - Great financial support to vocational schools located in organized industrial zones

Again, with the support of the Government, 2,839 students enrolled in 16 programs related to the sectors of manufacturing and logistics in 11 vocational schools that were established in the organized industrial zone were provided with an average of 5,000 TL per student apart from the general school budget for the 2019-2020 academic year.

24- Apart from the major and minor specialties in clinical (medical) branches, clinical practice-oriented graduate programs were opened for the first time in subjects that require science and technology

In this way, specialist physicians with increased competence will raise the quality bar in scientific activities through education and training in clinical sciences. These programs are also interdisciplinary. This opportunity, which was introduced to the system, offers an appealing opportunity to international students abroad without providing the authorization to perform a profession in our country.