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In Turkey, the practice of appointments of university rectors by the President of the Republic is generating a new wave of criticism. The recent nomination of a new rector at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul has led opposition parties, civil rights organisations and parts of the higher education community to denounce politically motivated appointments by the government.

Turkish and international press have reported student and staff protests against the government’s perceived disregard for university autonomy and academic freedom in the country. This criticism has been echoed by the international higher education community, including Bogaziçi alumni around the globe.

The current rules governing the nomination of university rectors and politically motivated appointments represent clear violations of the principle of institutional autonomy. EUA underlines the importance of university values and remains committed to the internationally recognised principles of university autonomy and academic freedom, which are under ever greater pressure in Turkey.

Also in this context, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 21 January on the human rights situation in Turkey. The resolution deplores that the space for civil society is shrinking and cites academics among those groups at risk from state harassment.  This is a clear sign that the growing de-democratisation of Turkish society, including parts of the Turkish public sector, continues to be of concern at the political level.

EUA stands with the Turkish higher education community, including its more than 50 members in Turkey. The Association has been closely monitoring the situation since the July 2016 coup attempt, which was followed by the arrest of academics along with journalists and civil servants. It was also followed by the current regulation for the appointment of university rectors by the President of the Turkish Republic.

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