Erdoğan's authority to open university faculties challenged at top administrative court

Turkish teachers' union Eğitim-Sen has applied to Turkey's top administrative court for the cancellation of a recent presidential decree through which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the establishment of a law faculty in the Agean province of İzmir's Ege University.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seen signing a presidential decree in this file photo.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

The Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen) has filed a lawsuit at the Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, saying that the opening of new university faculties by presidential decrees violates the Constitution.

The union demanded that the top court cancel a June 2 presidential decree through which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the establishment of a law faculty at İzmir's Ege University, raising the number of law faculties across the country to 89.

Since 2018, when Erdoğan was given sweeping new powers with the executive presidential system, five more law faculties have been opened in the country with Erdoğan's decrees.

In their petition to the Council of State, Eğitim-Sen lawyers Birgül Değirmenci and Nedim Değirmenci said that such presidential decrees are contrary to the Constitution's Article 130, which says universities “shall be established by the State and by law, to educate at different levels based on secondary education.”

Eğitim-Sen lawyers also said that Erdoğan's presidential decrees are in violation of the Higher Education Law (Yükseköğretim Kanunu) No. 2547 which “explicitly regulates the establishment of faculties by law.”

Recalling the newly established faculties at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University, Eğitim-Sen said that any procedure undertaken without consulting the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) and the university's relevant units violates the Constitution's Article 131, which gives the YÖK the authority “to ensure the establishment and development of these institutions in conformity with the objectives and principles set forth by law.”

“It is beyond dispute that universities are not just signboards and that they carry a meaning together with their units,” the Eğitim-Sen petition said.

In February, Erdoğan ordered the establishment of law and communications faculties at Boğaziçi University, which has been at the center of protests after Erdoğan appointed an academic with ties to the ruling party as rector.

The new rector Melih Bulu welcomed Erdoğan's new presidential decree, arguing that the new faculties “will contribute different perspectives and richnesses to Boğaziçi.”