"YÖK-Future Project” for Future Scientists
September 9, 2020
It is obvious that the sole aim of filling positions in academia should not be to provide employment, rather it must be a result within the framework of public interest. Turkish universities should have the qualified manpower required for the production of knowledge in line with their visions and main mission. Academic specialization sometimes requires specific depth, rather than a broad scope, to be defined. It should be recognized that the situations, needs and conditions of higher education institutions on this subject could be different. We have to take into consideration the fact that there is a need for experts in more specific fields, especially at universities that have completed their development to a great extent. However, it is evident that fulfilling this need should only be in terms of fairness and equal opportunity. This is one side of the matter.
Another side of the issue is the proper association of the scientific activities and missions of Turkish universities with the preferences and priorities of our country on the path towards development. There is a need for a central planning in line with the development of our country in terms of staff positioning for all universities in general, but especially for Turkish state universities, which have different statuses according to staff regime.
As is known, the employment of faculty members and academic staff at Turkish universities has been carried out throughout the history of CoHE as follows: (a) The central system allocate a specific number of positions to higher education institutions (b) CoHE gives the permission for the use of positions determined on the basis of titles at higher education institutions by taking into account the public interest (c) Turkish universities determine the special conditions for the positions and finalize the process for assignment on their own initiative.
A new method will be implemented for the use of academic positions this year. The New CoHE has designed this method as a project. The Project is called “YÖK-FUTURE PROJECT".
- “YÖK-Future Project for Future Scientists” will be realized in three stages.
Stage 1: Employment of research assistants in priority fields,
Stage 2: Employment of faculty members in priority fields,
Stage 3: Academic merit-career platform
The path followed by the New CoHE in the last five years in terms of informing the public is to share with the public the projects that CoHE has realized, not its prospective works, designs and projections. Today, we want to share with the public not the news of a new project, rather the first step of this project.
As the New CoHE, there are key concepts that we have introduced to the Turkish higher education system and restructured the system within this framework. Priority fields, specialization, open science, diversity at universities, research universities, universities aimed at regional development, practice-oriented universities, thematic universities, honors classes in fundamental sciences, CoHE 100/2000 doctorate in priority fields, digital transformation, and future professions are among these key concepts. The higher education system is gradually being restructured within the framework of these principles.
Today, as the New CoHE, we are implementing a new setup in line with our goal. Hopefully, we will make significant progress in a short time in this project as we have done in our other projects. Giving opportunities to young people who are candidates to produce knowledge in the priority fields of the country in the system, protecting them and reinforcing their belief that their achievement will be rewarded will be the other outputs of this project.
Stage 1 in YÖK-Future Project:
“EMPLOYMENT OF RESEARCH ASSISTANTS IN PRIORITY FIELDS”
- Job announcements will be posted for research assistants to work in priority fields for the first time.
The system, which has been in use for many years, will continue to be carried out. The total number of appointment permits determined centrally in 2020 has been allocated to the universities. After CoHE received the permits for the announcements, the conditions are determined by the relevant universities and the processes are carried out by the universities.
In addition, a different method will be implemented in which a smaller number of staff will be allocated. CoHE designed this new method in a simple and plain manner similar to its other projects. The features of this method are as follows:
- a) Identifying the priority fields of our country and opening doctoral programs in these fields,
- b) Ensuring that universities to which additional positions will be allocated (additional appointment permits will be granted) have the competence to offer doctoral studies in the priority fields of our country determined by CoHE,
- c) Defining the profile needed, not a specific person, for the position. Paying attention to the fact that there are enough candidates in the system who can apply for the positions declared by refraining from damaging the sense of justice and by taking into account equal opportunities,
- d) Evaluation and selection of candidates by the universities in accordance with the current procedure.
While universities continue to use positions for the main staff, they also focus on the priorities of our country for a certain number of research assistants within the framework of the authority granted by CoHE. However, the execution of the process is also left to the universities, provided that they do not stipulate conditions other than the ones determined by CoHE.
- A perceptible improvement is aimed in higher education thanks to the project
With the appointment of research assistants in priority fields who will contribute to the shaping 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 two to three years.
- No special conditions will be required except for the conditions determined by CoHE
Turkey's priority fields were identified under the project and students who are doing their doctoral studies in these fields were granted the opportunity to get appointed to positions of research assistants, provided that these positions are not “tailored just for them”. While universities continue to use positions for the general staff, they also focus on the priorities of our country for a smaller number of research assistants. However, the execution of the process is also left to the universities, provided that they do not stipulate conditions other than the ones determined by CoHE.
- Additional permits for research assistant positions in priority fields for 2020
Additional permits for research assistant positions in priority fields were given to meet the qualified manpower needed in certain fields within the understanding of the “New COHE” in 2020.
Some of the priority fields for which additional assignment permits were given are as follows: Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Micro and Nanotechnology, Smart and Innovative Materials, Food Production, Processing and Technology, Food Biotechnology, Sustainable Agriculture, Zootechnics and Animal Nutrition, Molecular Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Research and Vaccines, Biotechnology, International Security and Terrorism, Digitalization in Education, Human Brain and Neuroscience, etc.
2,200 students continue their doctoral studies in these priority fields at various universities in the higher education system. In other words, positions/staff announcements are not for certain individuals, but for designated fields. The priority is on priority fields, not individuals.
With this project, an important step is taken in order to meet the need for qualified manpower and the lack of academic staff in the priority fields of our country. Appointing people to these positions according to merit and benefiting from the pool of academics in Turkey, rather than the pool of academics of a certain university, makes this important step more valuable.
One thing is obvious. As a result of our initiatives as the New CoHE, we grant undergraduate scholarships in fundamental sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics), agriculture, forestry, veterinary medicine, fisheries, astronomy and space sciences, earth sciences and philosophy and PhD scholarships through the CoHE 100/2000 Doctoral Project. All these scholarships were created within the framework of principles of transparent processes, merit and equity, and by considering the priorities of our country and our academic environment.
The trust and reputation that the New CoHE has gained before the public in recent years is due to the importance it attaches to being transparent and accountable in each of its initiatives. What the New CoHE understands from the concept of being open to public scrutiny is not only the audit done by certain institutions, but also the open expression of its actions in front of all segments of society, that is, being open to social audit.
Stage 2 in YÖK-Future Project:
“EMPLOYMENT OF FACULTY MEMBERS IN PRIORITY FIELDS”
- The employment of faculty members in priority fields will also be announced soon
The second stage of the “YÖK Faculty Members in Priority Fields Project” will consist of additional permits to be given for the appointment of faculty members in specific priority fields. "Successful departments" will be rewarded as they will be further strengthened with "additional" job advertisements for faculty members to be allocated to the relevant departments of Turkish universities that stand out in these fields.
This stage of the project will be shared with the academia and the public in the coming days. (Information on how universities and fields of study are selected will also be shared.)
Thus, the three stages of YÖK-Future Project will be implemented and realized this month. 
We are happy to present the projects we have realized to the public, not our designs or projections.
 The research assistant permits given within the scope of priority fields are “additional” permits given to certain universities for priority fields. It does not include the job advertisements to be made by the universities according to general rules. That process is carried out by the universities separately.