Turkish universities stronger, freer than ever, says Erdoğan

Turkey’s universities have never been as as strong and and as free as they are today, Russian Sputnik news quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying on Saturday.

Erdoğan’s statements in the central Turkish province of Kayseri’s Erciyes University follow a decree issued in June by Turkey’s strongman which strips much of the supervisory powers of the country’s education watchdog (YÖK) and grants himself sole authority to appoint university rectors. 

The Turkish president stressed the increasing number of universities in Turkey during the past 16 years of his leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) in power and lashed out at the support given by university rectors to the Feb. 28, 1997 post-modern coup, wherein the Turkish military ousted the İslamist prime minister of the time, this time launching a comprehensive investigation into civilians, universities, businessmen and NGOs of the time.

''We took universities to the students instead of having them search for universities,'' Erdoğan said. ''This is where our success lies.''

Erdoğan also noted that conducting terrorist propaganda would never be allowed on Turkish campuses, in an apparent reference to support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group which has been at war in Turkey for over three decades.

Turkey is home to 112 state and 74 foundation universities and vocational schools.