Mar 23 2018

International scholars happy to self-censor – Turkish university president

International scholars are not being put off by the political situation in Turkey, the president of Koç University in Istanbul said at the Times Higher Education MENA Universities Summit in Jeddah.

“In spite of (the problems), the talent pool that I have been interviewing for this year has been amazing and, of the 24 positions that we have been searching for, we have probably filled about six of them with non-Turkish people,” Umran İnan said.

“People look for a challenge. People are not looking for easy cop-outs or high salaries or things like that,” he said. “They want to rub elbows with quality people, they want an environment in which non-linear, unpredictable things can happen.”

However, the university could take no responsibility for the government’s reactions to academics who speak their minds, İnan said.

It “cannot protect what would happen to an individual faculty member if he or she says something … that might irritate the current government,” the Times Higher Education supplement quoted him as saying.

“The university is governed by current conditions of the state … Whatever a faculty member cannot say outside the campus, he or she shouldn’t say inside the campus either.”

Pure academia was safe, İnan said, but members of faculty were being prosecuted for activities such as a recent peace petition.

“Some of our academics may have done things themselves outside of the university operations. They might have signed statements that have nothing to do with their academic output,” he said.