Winners of 2021 Barrier-free University Awards Announced
May 5, 2021 / Ankara
As is known, the Council of Higher Education has taken steps to make all
Turkish higher education institutions accessible to all students with the
works it has been carrying out under the title “Barrier-free Access and Barrier-free Education” in recent
years. In addition to the arrangements for physical areas and inclusive design,
CoHE has discussed the topics ofaccessibility to education programs and accessibility to socio-cultural activities, which have
been neglected for years, and continued
to closely watch the situation after setting some standards other than
According to YÖKSIS, there are currently51,647 students with disabilities. Among these students,27,782 of them receive educationat associate degree level, 23,581at undergraduate level, 236 atMaster’s degree level and 48 at doctoral level. 89% of these students are enrolled
in open education programs.
- Works are carried out for all groups with disabilities
Physically challenged students and students with visual impairments
have relatively higher access to higher education than other groups. The
Council aims to integrate students from different disability groups such as
the hearing impaired or students with autism spectrum disorder
into higher education with its recent decisions. Even though a lot of
progress has been made in inclusive design and access to physical areas, access to education has yet to reach the desired level.
Students with special needs can only be integrated into education at all
levels, graduate education in particular, when they are allowed to have
access to formal education. Making a program accessible for
visually-impaired individuals differs from making it accessible for
individuals with autism spectrum disorder. To this end, different measures
should be taken according to the needs of different groups with
- “Barrier-free University Awards” are given every year
As a result of the works initiated for the integration of all students into
campus life at universities, hundreds of criteria were determined and these
criteria were linked with awards to encourage these efforts. The Barrier-free University Awards, which were given for
the first time in 2018, encouraged universities to become accessible inphysical areas, education, and socio-cultural activities, and most of the
universities gave impetus to their efforts by establishing committees
on the topic
The number of applications, which was318 from 41 universities in 2018, has risen to 841 from 116 universities in 2020.
- Award ceremony took place online this year once again
The Barrier-free University Awards ceremony, which is organized to raise
awareness of the access of individuals with disabilities to places,
educational opportunities and sociocultural activities in higher education
institutions and to disseminate good practices, was once again held through
video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
The Minister of Family and Social Services, Derya Yanık, President of the
Council of Higher Education, Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç, CoHE Executive Board
Member and Coordinator of CoHE’s Working Group for Students with
Disabilities, Prof. Zeliha Koçak Tufan, Executive Board members of CoHE,
rectors of all universities, the rectors/related vice rectors/heads of the
departments responsible for students with disabilities of the universities
that have received the most awards and the panelists who contributed to the
evaluation of the awards attended the ceremony.
In his opening speech, CoHE President Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç noted that
the pandemic had affected many fields and that it brought along new
educational paradigms such as education technologies, distance education,
digital data, digital skills, and digital transformation to higher
President Saraç emphasized that another topic that the “New CoHE” has been
paying attention in terms of new and innovative initiatives was the works
they had been carrying out under the titles of“barrier-free access” and “ barrier-free education” to remove the obstacles faced
during enrollment in higher education and throughout the period of study.
the number of students with various levels of disability was
over 50 thousand
according to the data of YÖKSIS. He said that the number of students with
disabilities is higher than this figure but that they were aware of the
fact that these students did not report their disabilities to the
CoHE President Saraç talked about the arrangements made for students with
disabilities and said, “In recent years, important arrangements have been
made in topics such as the period of validity for exam scores for higher
education entrance to be used by
students with disabilities in programs that accept students via a
special talent exam
and the allocation of a certain amount of quotas (10%) for these students. Workshops were held to raise awareness of the
accessibility of disabled individuals to all places and to disseminate good
practices in higher education institutions since the 2016-2017 academic
year, which is accepted as the Barrier-free Access Year.”
President Saraç said that Master’s programs with/out thesis for Turkish
Sign Language Interpretation and a Doctoral program for Turkish Sign
Language were opened for the first time in higher education.
“The priority fields aimed at studies on disabilities were identified under
the CoHE 100/2000 PhD Scholarship Program and CoHE granted
doctoral scholarships in some fields.
New undergraduate and graduate programs were opened in occupational
therapy, and speech and language therapy, and the Department of
Education of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder were opened in
An associate degree program for Shadow Teachers were
opened at two foundation universities to train individuals, known as
‘shadow teachers’ abroad, in academia.
As distance education has been carried out during the coronavirus pandemic,
CoHE determined a Roadmap for Distance Education.
Decisions were made regarding the accessibility of programs according to
disability type, measures to be taken for online exams
according to disability type, the attention required to ensure that student
do not lose contact with higher education, and the contact of university
staff with these students and their families at regular intervals.
Proposals regarding the measures required for the accessibility of distance
education for students with disabilities were also included in the
“Report on the New Normalization Process During the Pandemic”
“Guide for the Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher
Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic”
CoHE’s Working Group for Students with Disabilities
prepared a survey
to assess the measures taken for students with disabilities and the current
situation amid the pandemic. We continue to work on legislations aimed at
the education of students with disabilities at all levels by considering
the challenges they are facing in their associate degree, undergraduate and
CoHE President Saraç concluded his speech by stating that he believed the
Turkish higher education system would provide a barrier-free education
environment for special students and include them in campus life.
Click here to read the full transcript of the speech made by CoHE President
Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç. (In Turkish)
Following Saraç’s speech, the Minister of Family and Social Services, Derya
Yanık, made a speech. She emphasized that more citizens with disabilities
would be able to go to schools, and buildings, pavements, parks and gardens
would transform into common living spaces if social awareness increased.
She said that she appreciated the increase of the number of universities
awarded with barrier-free program decorations, which had been given to 41
universities since 2018, to 116 the previous year. “I believe
wholeheartedly that there will not be any universities that did not receive
this decoration left in line with the goals for 2013. Our primary goal is
to remove the obstacles to the dreams of individuals with disabilities and
to offer them barrier-free horizons. Minister Yanık concluded her speech by
saying that the Ministry would continue to support state institutions and
organizations, including universities, technically and financially.
Following the speeches, CoHE Executive Board Member and Coordinator of
CoHE’s Working Group for Students with Disabilities, Prof. Zeliha Koçak
Tufan, made a presentation about the awards.
After the presentation, the Minister and CoHE President announced the
higher education institutions that won the 2021 Barrier-free University
- Universities showed great interest in awards again this year
The fourth ceremony for the awards, which has been organized by the “New
CoHE” since 2018, has again attracted great attention from universities
this year. 837 applications for university flags from 114 universities and
108 applications for program decorations from 21 universities, which were
in fields such as health, engineering, special education, and
architecture in seven panels held with the participation of academics
on 12-19 April 2021, were evaluated this year.
- "Barrier-Free University Flags" and "Barrier-Free Program
CoHE presented “Barrier-free University Flags” in three
categories, which are “Spatial Accessibility”, “Access to Education” and
“Access to Socio-cultural Activities”, to higher education institutions and
“Barrier-free Program Decorations” to the related programs
of universities which made their programs accessible for different groups
of disabled people.
- “Barrier-free University Flags” were presented in three categories
“Flag for Spatial Accessibility” (Orange Flag)
– CoHE received 197 applications. 52 universities were awarded with 129
“Flag for Access to Education” (Green Flag)
- CoHE received 21 applications. 14 universities were awarded with 30 green
“Flag for Access to Socio-cultural Activities” (Blue Flag)
– CoHE received 24 applications. Six universities were awarded with nine
“Barrier-free Program Decoration”
- Among 108 applications made by 21 universities for the “Barrier-free
Program Decorations”, seven programs of two universities were awarded with Barrier-free Program Decorations.
While Kütahya Dumlupınar University received the most
flags with ten flags, Aksaray University andHarran University took second place with nine flags andIstanbul University and Yozgat Bozok University took third place with eight flags.
Istanbul Bilgi University
received the most flags for the category of accessibility to education and Istanbul University received the most flags for the
category of accessibility to socio-cultural activities.
Click here to see the list of universities that received awards.
Click here for information on the awards.
Click here to view the names of candidate universities for the 2021
Barrier-free University Awards.