Turks want politically independent universities, disapprove of appointment of rectors with political connections: Survey

The majority of Turkish people want to see politically independent universities and disapprove of the appointment of university rectors with political backgrounds, according to a fresh survey conducted by Metropoll Research. The survey has also revealed that the public disapproves of the way rectors are appointed.

Students of Boğaziçi University protest against President Erdoğan's appointment of a new rector.

Duvar English

Some 75 percent of Turkish people want to see politically independent universities, according to a fresh survey conducted by pollster Metropoll Research.

The pollster released the results of the report titled “Turkey's Pulse January 2021: The Month In 5 Numbers” on Feb. 4.

The survey asked participants if they agree with the view that “Universities should be independent/autonomous from politics in their management and in their studies.” Some 75 percent said they “agree,” while 15.7 percent said they “disagree,” and the remaining 9.2 percent did not indicate a response.

“Our people want universities to be independent of politics in terms of their management and academia,” wrote Metropoll Research head Özer Sencar on Twitter.

The survey has revealed that the public also disapproves of the way university rectors are appointed.

Some 73 percent of participants said, “University teaching staff should choose their own rector.” Only 17.9 percent agreed with the current system, saying “Rectors should be appointed by the President.” The remaining 9.1 percent have not indicated a response.

The survey has also asked people if they approve of the appointment of “party-affiliated/politicians such as former lawmaker or former parliamentary candidate” as a rector. Some 69 percent said they disapprove of it, whereas only 20.2 percent said they approve of it.

The survey also looked at which party the participants voted for in the June 24, 2018 elections. Accordingly, 50.6 percent of AKP voters do not approve of such a politically-affiliated appointment method, 35.8 percent of AKP voters said they would approve of it.

“We have investigated people's opinions with regards to rector appointments and universities' managements, upon the incidents in Boğaziçi University. It is very clear that even people who voted for the ruling party are seriously disturbed about the incidents,” Sencar wrote on Twitter.

The survey results come in the wake of a series of student protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of rector Melih Bulu to Istanbul-based Boğaziçi University.

Bulu was given the position by presidential decree in January, having been chosen in the same manner as rector — the top post — to Istanbul’s İstinye and Haliç universities.

Bulu’s appointment was criticized as being political since he is a former parliamentary candidate from Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Critics also accused him of plagiarism in his published articles and PhD thesis.