- “2022-2023 Academic Year Opening Ceremony” Held at Presidential Complex

- YÖK 2022 Excellence Awards Given to Winners

- CoHE President Erol Özvar: “As the Council of Higher Education, increasing the access of young people who have completed their secondary education and want to study to higher education is undoubtedly among our priority missions.”

October 10, 2022 / Ankara​

The Council of Higher Education (CoHE) held the “2022-2023 Higher Education Academic Year Opening Ceremony” at the Presidential Complex with the presence of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye, Mustafa Şentop, CoHE President Erol Özvar and state officials attended the opening ceremony. Ministers, CoHE members, heads of relevant institutions, ambassadors and all university rectors and students also attended the event.

The music recital of the Turkish Music State Orchestra of Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University was followed by a movie screening entitled “Higher Education” which was about the development of Turkish higher education and its current situation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CoHE President Prof. Erol Özvar made speeches in the opening ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, “YÖK 2020 Excellence Awards”, which are given in four categories by CoHE every year, were given to the winners.

CoHE President Özvar started his speech by wishing that the 2022-2023 academic year would be auspicious for Türkiye and said “CoHE decided that Turkish universities offer face-to-face education and put them into practice in this period when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic subsided.”

He pointed out that there had been a significant increase in the number of higher education institutions in Türkiye under the leadership of President Erdoğan and that there were no provinces without a university. “The establishment of a university in every province of our country has expanded the higher education capacity of Türkiye, and thus, more students from all over the country now have access to higher education. In the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in access to higher education in Türkiye with the increase in higher education opportunities, the opening of new universities and the arrangements about the quotas. As the Council of Higher Education, increasing the access of young people who have completed their secondary education and want to study to higher education is undoubtedly among our priority missions.” he said.

- Record increase in demand for higher education-

Özvar said that the number of candidates who applied to the university entrance system of ÖSYM in 2002 was around 1 million 540 thousand and added, “As of 2022, this figure has reached a record level of 3 million 243 thousand. This increase is a striking example of a huge demand for higher education, and this demand continues to rise.”

Özvar pointed out that the number of students studying at universities is increasing day by day with the increase in access to higher education as a result of the expansion in higher education and said that the higher education graduation rate of young people between the ages of 25-34 in Türkiye had doubled from 18% to 40% in the last decade. He underlined that Türkiye had come so close to OECD averages in access to higher education under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Besides expanding the volume of higher education in Türkiye and increasing the access of more students to higher education, there is an opportunity to increase diversity in higher education. Undoubtedly, the most disadvantaged groups have benefited the most from this expansion in higher education. Students who could not find the opportunity to study at our universities because of staying behind in high competition due to economic or social reasons can now overcome these disadvantages. When we talk about the importance of delivering higher education to wider audiences, I would like to emphasize once again that higher education should not be seen as just a career door,” he said.

- “Higher education opportunities were provided to more people with the removal of the minimum passing score.”

He reiterated that they removed the requirement of the minimum passing score for the 2022 Higher Education Institutions Examination and said, “After the removal of the requirement of the minimum passing score, the number of applications increased by 24% compared to the previous year. While 2 million 608 thousand candidates applied last year, the number of candidates increased to 3 million 243 thousand this year. More importantly, while 690 thousand people were placed in universities last year, excluding open education, this figure reached 850 thousand this year. In other words, higher education opportunities were provided to approximately 160 thousand more people compared to last year.”

- Programs were opened for national human resource needs-

Özvar stated that new business fields and occupational groups were emerging in today's rapidly changing world of science and technology and said, "As the Council of Higher Education, we have opened new programs and departments that will improve the human capital of our country for resource needs by carefully following these new business fields and occupations on a global scale, starting from the 2022-2023 academic year. For the first time this year, our students will begin their education in departments such as “Cyber ​​Security”, “CNC Programming and Operatorship” and “Offshore Drilling Technology”. He stated that international students continued to prefer Turkish universities despite the conditions of the pandemic, adding that the number of international students in Türkiye had exceeded 288 thousand as of today, with an increase of over 10% compared to the past few years.

-100 Excellence Projects to be Supported in the 100th Anniversary of the Republic-

CoHE President Özvar said that they had developed projects that would increase the competition in the Turkish higher education system and produce better answers to the demands of different stakeholders.

“We will support 100 Excellence Projects in 2023, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Republic. All academic units such as higher education institutions, faculties, institutes, research centers or departments can apply to these projects. Thus, there will be a multi-faceted competition at various levels between higher education institutions with different institutional capacities and infrastructures. With these projects, we aim to respond quickly and effectively to different stakeholder expectations and to support the units that carry out activities that will increase Türkiye's competitiveness in the international arena.”

-Climate and Environment -Friendly Campus Project-

He said that the Climate and Environment-Friendly Campus Project was launched that year and said, “As part of the project, the Council of Higher Education, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change have recently signed the “Collaboration Protocol in the Field of Creating a Sustainable and Green Campus”. The project aims to create campuses that cover design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, demolition and waste disposal that are sustainable, energy efficient, compatible with nature and cause minimal damage to the environment throughout their life cycle in ten universities selected from different regions in the first stage.

-Vocational Schools for Cyber Security will be opened-

Özvar pointed out that another important protocol signed was the project for the opening of vocational schools for cyber security and said, “The creation of employment-oriented policies and the training of people with the qualifications required by the sectors and with high knowledge, skills and application competence are among our most important priorities. For this purpose, a protocol was signed with the Digital Transformation Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye to establish vocational schools for cyber security, which aim to provide a competent and qualified workforce in cyber security.”

-YÖK Academic Mobility Project-

Özvar pointed out that they had declared an academic mobilization with the YÖK Academic Mobility Project, which had been completed recently and would begin to be implemented starting from the Spring Term of the 2022-2023 Academic Year. He stated that they started this project with the aim of supporting the programs that had difficulties in recruiting academic staff at universities established after 2006, increasing the mobility of academic staff among Turkish universities, and bringing students together with the faculty members of different universities.

-Mukhtar Academy Project-

Özvar stated that CoHE and the Ministry of Interior prepared the Mukhtar Academy Project within the scope of the mission of Turkish universities to serve the society and the public and that the project would allow 50,342 mukhtars, who are the cornerstone of the local government structure, to be trained to provide more effective, efficient and qualified service and to continue their work with a human-oriented and correct communication-based understanding. Özvar underlined that these training courses would take place in university campuses located in every corner of Türkiye.

He pointed out that they had expanded the opportunities offered to the students with the protocols signed within the scope of university-industry cooperation.

“For instance, for the first time in this academic year, we have decided to provide undergraduate scholarships to those who will choose artificial intelligence engineering in addition to basic sciences. With many collaborations we have made with the sectors that lead the way for the development of Türkiye, we have pioneered in offering opportunities that will provide great advantages to students who choose oil, natural gas, offshore services, geomatics engineering, mining, textile and leather engineering. We also opened new associate degree programs within the scope of the protocol signed between the Council of Higher Education and Turkish Petroleum OTC this year and provided scholarships to students enrolled in these programs. In addition, we have started to give scholarships to students who are placed in programs such as Geology, Geophysics and Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering at the undergraduate level with a high success order. The departments of "Offshore Drilling Technologies" and "Offshore Bottom Applications Technology", which were opened this year, accepted students with a TYT score range of 452-432. In the first year of the protocol, we were very pleased that outstanding young people were directed to these programs.”

-Academic Foreign Language Support Project-

He reiterated that CoHE attached great importance to the development of the academic human resources to increase the international visibility of Turkish universities. Özvar stated that they had recently started the Academic Foreign Language Support Project in order to carry Turkish universities to higher levels in the international arena with the research and outputs produced by the academic staff.

-Big Data Project-

He noted that the Council of Higher Education started the Big Data Project in the Turkish Higher Education System that year with the aim of giving significant acceleration to higher education at national and international level. He said that eight pilot universities started to work under the project to store, process, evaluate and analyze high volume and variety of data and to obtain the necessary information from the collected data.

-Big Data Certification Program-

He said that they would launch the "Big Data Certificate Program" to provide higher education students with digital competencies in fields such as data science, big data, data analysis, impact analysis and network technologies needed by the labor market through certificate programs. CoHE President Özvar stated that the national and international recognition of the certificates obtained by students at the end of the program would make it possible for the qualifications they had acquired in the program to be credited and the portability of these credits within the higher education system. Özvar once again thanked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on behalf of all universities for the generous support he had provided to education and higher education and wished success to the students in the new term.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a speech after the speech of CoHE President Erol Özvar. He stated that the State had mobilized all its resources to facilitate the access of young people to higher education.

Erdoğan reiterated that there were problems in the past about how to get teachers to the Southeast and Eastern Anatolia. He said that the number of airports increased from 26 to 59 and that they could go to Muş, Kars and Ağrı by plane.

He pointed out that the existing higher education dormitories met the demands and said, “Currently, we have dormitories with a capacity of 850 thousand students and they can easily meet the needs. Our modern dormitories, as well as our universities, have better buildings. We have well-equipped universities which we can show as an example to the world. We have secondary schools. We have come this far. With the steps we took, we changed the bad scene that did not suit Türkiye and Turkish universities."

President Erdoğan noted that the number of professors at universities, which was 9 thousand in 2002, increased to 31 thousand, and that the number of associate professors, which was 5 thousand, rose to 18 thousand. He stated that the total number of academic staff increased from 70 thousand to 184 thousand.

He stated that Türkiye's higher education graduates aged 25-34 increased by 348 percent in the last two decades according to the report published by the OECD the previous week and said, “While the schooling rate was around 13 percent, it has reached 45 percent today. As a result of this, we are proud and pleased that the number of our university graduates has reached 13 million 266 thousand in 2022.”

President Erdoğan underlined that the youth who would be trained in vocational schools would be the personnel, not intermediate staff, in cyber security. He pointed out that another important innovation was about women and said, “With the new project that we are about to complete, we are opening a new door in higher education for our women over the age of 35. Accordingly, we will define additional quotas in associate and undergraduate programs for them.”

After the speech of President Erdoğan, CoHE President Prof. Erol Özvar presented the gift.

Later, President Erdoğan and CoHE President Özvar presented the "YÖK 2022 Excellence Awards" to the winners.

Dr. Aslı Ulubaş Hamurcu and her thesis advisor Prof. Fatih Terzi received the “Doctoral Thesis of the Year Award” in the category of “Fine Arts and Architecture”. Dr. Osman Gazi Güçlütürk and his thesis advisor Assoc. Prof. Fülürya Yusufoğlu Bilgin received an award in the category of “Social and Human Sciences”. Dr. Berdan Ulaş and his thesis advisors Prof. Hilal Demir Kıvrak and Prof. İrfan Ar received an award in the category of “Science and Engineering”. Dr. Nazife Ülker Ertuğrul ve her thesis advisor Prof. Sinan Canpolat received an award in the category of “Health and Sports Sciences”.

Atatürk University was awarded with the "Digital Transformation and Big Data Studies Award". Dicle University was awarded with the "Social Responsibility Award". Erciyes University was awarded with the "International Cooperation Award". Özyeğin University was awarded with the "University-Business Cooperation Award". Burdur Mehmet Akif Ersoy University was awarded with the "Contribution to Local Development Award".

Under the “Special Field Awards”, Prof. Mustafa Başaran and Assoc. Prof. Sedat Nizamoğlu were given awards in the categories of “National Innovation Award” and “Science Diplomacy Award”, respectively.

Prof. Raşit Küçük was given the "Special Award" in the category of "Service to Science and Students".