August 5th, 2016
On July 25, 2016, the Magna Charta Observatory - which oversees the compliance of signatory universities with the principles enshrined in the Magna Charta Universitatum -issued a statement expressing its serious concern with regard to the detrimental effect that the measures and actions undertaken by Turkish authorities following the July 15th coup attempt have had on the functioning of universities in the Republic of Turkey (For the full text of the statement see: http://www.magna-charta.org/news/mco-statement-concerning-universities-in-turkey).
The Magna Charta Universitatum is a document that was signed by 388 rectors and heads of universities from all over Europe and beyond on 18 September 1988, the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna. It has since been signed by 802 well-known universities from 85 countries. Epoka University became a signatory of Magna Charta Universitatum in 2013 (For a full list of signatories see: http://www.magna-charta.org/signatory-universities).
This document contains principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy as a guideline for good governance and self-understanding of universities in the future.
Academic freedom represents the foundation for the independent search for truth and a barrier against undue intervention from both government and interest groups, whereas institutional autonomy is considered to be a prerequisite for the effective and efficient operations of modern universities.
As a signatory of Magna Charta Universitatum, Epoka University is committed to the protection and promotion of the principles of institutional autonomy and academic freedom. Hence Epoka University strongly endorses the statement issued by Magna Charta Observatory.
At the same time, as an associate member of the European University Association (EUA), Epoka University fully endorses the statement of the EUA of July 19, 2016, condemning the forced resignation of all University deans in Turkish state and foundation universities. (For the full text of the statement see: http://www.eua.be/activities-services/news/newsitem/2016/07/19/eua-statement-condemning-the-forced-resignation-of-1577-university-deans)
Epoka University avails itself of this opportunity to express its full support and solidarity to the academic staff and students of universities in the Republic of Turkey.
The full text of the statements issued by Magna Charta Observatory and EUA is as follows:
Statement of Magna Charta Observatory concerning universities in Turkey
The Magna Charta Observatory views the treatment of Turkish universities and academics by the Higher Education Council in the aftermath of the failed coup of July 15th with increasing concern. The latest reports refer to the forced resignation of 1577 university deans, and to suspensions and travel bans affecting many more academics and students.
In January, the Observatory was one of 20 international education organisations which wrote to the Turkish President expressing concern. The letter expressed ‘grave concern about recent reports of widespread pressures on members of the Turkish higher education and research community, including investigations, arrests, interrogations, suspensions and termination of positions, in apparent violation of internationally recognized principles of academic freedom, free expression and freedom of association; principles on which quality higher education and research depend’. Recent measures taken by Turkish authorities after the coup attempt of July 15th signal a systemic mistrust of the higher education and research sector. This is seriously undermining its functioning in and to the benefit of society.
The Observatory exists to promote the fundamental values which have enabled universities world-wide to enrich their societies for generations. In summary these are that the university should be an autonomous institution; the research and teaching must be morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power; teaching and research must be inseparable and there must be openness with freedom for staff and students with concomitant responsibility to society. Some 33 universities in Turkey have signed the Magna Charta Universitatum in which these values are expressed. It is of grave concern to the Observatory that these universities in particular and all universities in Turkey in general are not currently able to operate in accordance with these values.
The Observatory calls upon Turkish authorities to restore, guarantee and protect the institutional autonomy of universities and the academic freedom of academic staff and students. Open and independent academic communities are crucial to the wellbeing of a democratic society, also in times of crisis. This is precisely what our Turkish partner universities are committed to promote and protect. The Observatory also calls on the authorities to restore normal working conditions for academics and students including international co-operations so that universities can serve society fully.
The Observatory expresses its support for academics in Turkey. It is exploring with other international educational bodies how it might best assist in the resolution of this grave situation and will be keeping the situation under review.
Council of the Magna Charta Observatory
25 July 2016
EUA Statement condemning the forced resignation of 1577 university deans in Turkey
19 July 2016
Following Friday's coup attempt in Turkey the education sector, including the higher education sector, has been targeted, as have many other public sectors.
15,200 education staff have been suspended while Turkey's Hurriyet reports that the Higher Education Council (YÖK) has ordered the resignation of all Deans from both Turkey's Public and foundation universities, 1176 from state universities and 401 from Foundation universities. EUA condemns strongly and unconditionally this action against universities and university staff, and expresses its heartfelt support for the higher education community in Turkey at this time.
While there has been global and unanimous support for the democratically elected government of Turkey in reaction to the military coup, the measures introduced to-day go in the wrong direction. More than ever Turkey needs freedom of speech, public and open debate, as advocated by its strong university sector, committed to internationally recognised university values, the principles of academic freedom, free expression and freedom of association.
EUA calls on all European governments, universities and scholars to speak out against these developments and to support democracy in Turkey, including institutional autonomy and academic freedom for scholars and students.
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