Turkish president’s attack on country’s top university provokes reaction

The rector and an alumni association at the prestigious Boğaziçi University in Istanbul have hit back after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the university was unsuccessful due to not resting on national values.

“This university of ours is to be honest a little weak,” Erdoğan told religious alumni association Boğaziçi University Reunion Association (BURA) at its annual meeting at the university.

“It has not fully reached its goals in its efforts to become a global brand due to not having rested on the values of this country and this nation.”

The university’s rector responded on Monday by posting a graphic showing that the university was number 190 in the world and top in Turkey according to analysis carried out by media company U.S. News and World Report.

Another alumni association, the Boğaziçi for Alumni Initiative (BUİM), issued a statement in which it criticised BURA for “applauding unfair criticism of the university” and said the group “would never represent all Boğaziçi alumni”.

Erdoğan also criticised the “multiplicity of voices” the university represented, saying that the university should be “drawing a line between its own country and nation and foreignness”.

“Being educated at the world’s best universities and having a local and national stance are never opposites to one another,” the president said.

The president is not alone in thinking Turkey’s top universities need a shakeup. Columnist Yusuf Kaplan wrote in Islamist newspaper Yeni Şafak in 2015 that Boğaziçi, along with the Middle East Technical University and Bilkent University in Ankara, should be demolished for infecting the country with U.S. culture and replaced with “national” alternatives.