January 05, 2021

After the appointment of a new rector to Boğaziçi University, which has an important place in our higher education system, it has been deemed necessary to share the following statement with the public due to various criticism in visual and print media, and communication channels.

Boğaziçi University is a successful and reputable university in higher education, both nationally and internationally. Due to its achievements, Boğaziçi University was included in the category of "Research Universities", a category introduced to the higher education system by CoHE, and was supported by the Strategy and Budget Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. At the request of Boğaziçi University, the Strategy and Budget Office allocated an additional appropriation of 50 million Turkish Liras as project aid in addition to the appropriations envisaged at the beginning of 2020. Other than the positions allocated to Boğaziçi University according to the current rules in 2020, additional appointment permits for faculty members were allocated to the university in the fields of “critical technologies” under the YÖK Future Project within the framework of the understanding of awarding quality and success, which was adopted by the New CoHE. The doctoral students selected by the university under the YÖK 100/2000 Project continue their studies in this project. We all share a common desire to raise the success bar of Boğaziçi University, which is considered valuable for our country, to a higher level and to strengthen its research as all the support provided for this purpose continue to be granted to the university.

As is known, due to the expiration of the term of office of the rector of Boğaziçi University, the process for the appointment of a new rector was initiated within the framework of the relevant legislation, similar to the processes in the appointment of rectors at universities in similar positions, and the applicants were submitted to the President’s Office. The appointment process was completed with the appointment of Prof. Melih Bulu by the President on January 2, 2021, in accordance with Article 13 of the Higher Education Law No.2547 and Articles 2, 3 and 7 of the Presidential Decree No.3.

Prof. Melih Bulu, who was appointed as the rector of the university by the President, meets the requirements for the application like other candidates. In order to become a rector (candidate) at a university, there are no conditions for having served as a tenured professor at the relevant university according to any old or new legislations. Boğaziçi University has been successfully managed by a scientist, who was a graduate and member of a different university, for two terms in the past, and this situation has never been criticized. It is also well known in academic circles that successful universities in many countries, especially in the US, generally search for and appoint rector candidates from other universities. Therefore, the successful management of a university cannot be linked to the appointed rector being a tenured academic as it does not reflect the reality in the global structure of the academia. Besides, it should be remembered that that the candidate, who was appointed as the rector by the President, completed the most important stage of his academic career, corresponding to seven years of this process, at Boğaziçi University. In other words, he was trained as an academic by the university he was appointed as rector. On the other hand, there have been many examples of such appointments in the system not only in recent years, but also for many years. Besides, it should be remembered that Prof. Melih Bulu served as the founding rector at İstinye University, as the rector at Haliç University and as the dean at Şehir University before he was appointed on the basis of his administrative experience.

On this occasion, as CoHE, we would like to draw attention to an issue. There is no doubt that the method of appointing a rector is important for the success of a university, but his performance after the appointment is much more important. Unfortunately, the appointment of a rector in our country is seen as both the beginning and the result of the issue. As CoHE, we try to abandon this false opinion by substituting the culture of accountability and to that end we have been publishing the scorecards of Turkish universities in recent years. Having academic circles, the public and even politics divert their attention and criticism at this point will contribute to the effort to raise the quality bar in higher education. Thus, the reports on the academic performance of Turkish universities were shared with the public only a day or two after the appointment of the rector of Boğaziçi University. Unfortunately, the public focuses on the appointment of the rector rather than the data shared with transparency, and added a political aspect to the issue. We should not evaluate rectors according to whether they have their post in the university when they are appointed. Rather we should evaluate, encourage or criticize them according to their contribution to the education and research capacity of the university on yearly basis and even request for the termination of their term of office in case they have caused concrete, measurable failures that are agreed on in the scientific world. If we want to take the Turkish scientific life further, we need to freely discuss such issues, generate ideas and realize the topics we have agreed on in higher education. If we were to talk about the so-called need for a system in which all salaries, expenses and infrastructures of all academic and administrative staff are covered by the State, the appointed administrators are guaranteed a job unconditionally by the State until the end of their term of employment and the appointed faculty members until their retirement and yet the top public administration does not have a say in the appointment of the administrators, in all fairness, there is no such model in the current world. Therefore, the issues related to higher education should be handled within a system and in integrity rather than individually, have a philosophical basis, and solutions should be found for these issues by ensuring broad consensus in the society. For this purpose, we would like to inform you of the initiative that will be implemented by CoHE in the coming months. This initiative will embrace all the components of the system to advance our scientific life, establish a quality-oriented growth by ensuring the fast development of Turkish universities on the basis of continuous development, and create an academic environment that controls and develops itself. We also believe that it is extremely important for our students to have knowledge in the regulations on higher education as well as our decisions and processes, and to be equipped with enthusiasm that will contribute to the future and development of this country. Consequently, we are aware of the fact that we should direct all our efforts to student-centered approaches together with our universities.

Finally, universities are not institutions to be governed solely by the scientific knowledge and administrative experience of a rector. Senior administrators at Turkish universities should listen to all components of the university and manage the processes in consultation with them. We believe that Boğaziçi University, together with its academic staff, students and administrative staff, will continuously seek success and look for the better in the light of science as a whole which is the right thing to do. We would like to express that CoHE will continue to promote Boğaziçi University, which has been using its knowledge and energy for the development of our country by generating science for Turkey within the framework of universal criteria.