Erdoğan tightens grip on universities, to appoint rectors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a decree stripping much of the supervisory powers of the country’s education watchdog (YOK) and gave himself sole authority to appoint university rectors.

The country’s science and technology research institute (TUBITAK) also loses much of its executive remit to Erdoğan’s palace upon the introduction of a full presidential system in Turkey, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Erdoğan is imparting a vice-like grip on political and social life in Turkey after winning enhanced powers at an election on June 24. The steps he is taking are further proof that Turkey has entered a new era in which one-man rule dominates. Hurriyet newspaper columnist Murat Yetkin this week termed the overhaul as Turkey’s “second republic”, which effectively puts an end to parliamentary democracy.

It is no longer a requirement for university rectors to have previously held the position of professor, Cumhuriyet said, citing the decree. The steps follow pressure imparted by Erdoğan and his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the policies of universities. Establishments such as the Middle East Technical University (ODTU) and Bosphorus University are considered bastions of secular modernity that have clashed with Erdoğan’s more islamist thinking.

On Monday, Erdoğan also gave himself sole authority to appoint the governor of the central bank and his deputies. He also placed his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, in charge of the Treasury and Finance Ministry. One of his closest advisers, Mustafa Varank, becomes industry and technology minister in the new Presidential Cabinet.