WENR, November/December 2003: Turkey
he Higher Education Law (1981) is the main law governing higher education in Turkey. The country’s system of higher education is highly centralized, making all universities subject to the same laws. Private universities were legalized in 1984 and currently operate under the supervision of the Council of Higher Education (Yök).
The council is the supreme educational authority. There are three other administrative bodies in the field of higher education: the Interuniversity Council, which acts as an academic advisory in some matters and a decision-making body in others; the Turkish University Rectors Committee; and the Higher Education Supervisory Board, which on behalf of the Council of Higher Education, supervises the universities, the units attached to them, the teaching staff, and their activities.
In December 2002, Turkey began a requisite 18 month preparatory period for its inclusion in the various European Union (EU) education programs. National Agency Turkey is responsible for the promotion, evaluation, management and monitoring of EU programs.
1. Easily Readable and Comparable Degrees
• The Council of Higher Education has designed a common university version of the diploma supplement, and universities will be issuing the first supplements in the current academic year. The supplement will be made available on request. In preparation for Turkey’s inclusion in EU student mobility programs, 15 universities were selected in April to participate in ECTS/Diploma Supplement studies.
• Turkey has neither signed nor ratified the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications.
• The Council of Higher Education acts as Turkey’s ENIC/NARIC body.
2. Degree Structure
Stage 1: The Lisans Diplomasi (bachelor’s degree) is awarded after completing four years of study. Dentistry, architecture and veterinary medicine require five years of study. Medicine takes six years, leading to the qualification of Doktor, which is awarded concurrently with the diploma. The Muhendis Diplomasi (engineering diploma) is awarded by technical universities and higher technical institutions after four to five years of study.
Stage 2: The Yuksek Lisans Diplomasi and the Yuksek Muhendi Diplomasi (higher engineering diploma) are awarded after two years of study beyond the undergraduate level, and require the preparation and defense of a thesis. Both qualifications are considered to be the equivalent of a master’s degree.
Stage 3: The Doktora (doctorate) requires two to four years of study beyond the master’s and the preparation of a doctoral thesis. The Sanatta Yeterlik (proficiency in art) is the equivalent of a doctorate in fine arts. The Uzmanlik (specialist degree) is equivalent to a doctorate in medical science.
• A 2003 ministerial report prepared for the Berlin Summit states that the current degree structure of Turkish higher education is already in line with the Bologna Declaration and therefore does not have to undergo reform.
3. Credit Transfer
• The current credit system allocates a predetermined number of credit hours for courses, similar to the system used in the United States. Students who have successfully completed at least one semester at a Turkish university are eligible to apply for transfer to another university.
• Most universities have converted their credit transfer systems to ECTS credits. This way, they will be ready for Turkey’s expected participation in such EU programs as SOCRATES-ERASMUS after they become eligible in the 2004-05 academic year.
• The major problem facing Turkish institutions in terms of mobility is funding.
• Most universities have established international offices and have connections with the National Agency, which facilitates mobility issues through EU programs. National Agency Turkey was established in January 2002 to carry out the necessary actions required for Turkey’s inclusion in EU education and culture programs.
• Pilot projects are running, or will soon be running, to prepare for Turkey’s anticipated participation in the SOCRATES and ERASMUS programs by the 2004-05 academic term.
• A team of 63 SOCRATES and Leonardo Da Vinci promoters has been selected by the National Agency to disseminate information to students and institutions across Turkey.
• Universities have thus far conducted student-exchange programs through bilateral agreements with foreign institutions.
5. Quality Assurance
• In Turkish higher education, there is no system for institutional or program accreditation, only official recognition. Presently, universities and four-year vocational higher schools derive their legitimacy through laws and decisions of Parliament, while two-year vocational schools are established by the Council of Higher Education. Any new degree programs at any level are subject to the council’s ratification.
• Academic year 2003-04 saw the drafting of “Regulations on Academic Assessment and Quality Control” by the Interuniversity Council. This document proposes that all higher-education degree programs be evaluated with an emphasis on self-assessment. One exception is doctoral programs, which would be subject to evaluation by an external committee. Curriculum evaluation would also be carried out by external evaluators.
• The Commission of Academic Assessment and Quality Control in Higher Education would specify the basic rules and mechanisms for the above-mentioned internal academic assessment. The commission would then examine the reports and submit an assessment of the programs to the Council of Higher Education and the Interuniversity Council.
• Some Turkish universities are accredited by foreign accreditation agencies.
6. Promotion of European Dimensions in Higher Education
• The recent Quality Culture Project organized by the European Universities Association saw the participation of three Turkish institutions of higher education: Bogaziçi University, Uludag University and Yildiz Technical University.
— Nick Clark
• Survey on Master Degrees and Joint Degrees in Europe, Christian Tauch and Andrejs Rauhvargers, September 2002
• The State of Implementation of ECTS in Europe, European University Association, October 2002
• Diploma Supplement – State of Implementation, European Commission, June 2003
• Lisbon Convention Status Reports, Council of Europe, Aug. 29, 2003
• Country Report Turkey, Ministry of Education, September 2003