June 12, 2016

ÜNİVDER head says appointment of trustees to university foundations ‘alarming’

Tahsin Yeşildere, head of the University Instructors’ Association (ÜNİVDER), has said that recent appointment of trustees to foundations that established private universities is alarming.

Speaking to Turkish daily Yarına Bakış on Sunday, Yeşildere said that government officials know that if the Higher Education Board (YÖK) directly intervenes in a private university, they will get huge reactions from the society, especially the academics.

“[That’s why] they don’t do it, but choose to achieve their objective through the foundations. They say, ‘We have nothing to do with the university itself, there are some irregularities about the foundation and therefore we appointed trustees there.’ But they will make whatever changes they want to the university through the foundation. … This is a really alarming situation,” Yeşildere added.

Latest trustee appointment was to the Health and Treatment Foundation that established the private Fatih University. Trustees were also appointed to Şifa University, Bursa Orhangazi University and Mevlana University in government-initiated moves targeting the Gülen movement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement, after a corruption investigation targeting people in Erdoğan’s inner circle became public with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013.

Erdoğan accused police officers, judges and prosecutors he claimed are linked with Gülen movement, which is inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, of being behind the investigation, which he branded as a “coup attempt.”

The movement strongly denies the allegations brought against it.

Published on Turkish Minute, 12 June 2016, Sunday