Report Claims Turkish Universities Need 45,000 More Academics

The president of the Higher Education Board (YÖK) Prof. Gökhan Çetinsaya announced the completion of a report examining the state of higher education in Turkey over the last 30 years, which concludes that Turkish universities are in need of 45,000 more academic staff.

Presenting a comprehensive analysis on the past, present and future of Turkish higher education, the report — titled “Growth, Quality and Internationalization: A Road Map for Higher Education in Turkey” — claims that the low number of academic staff in Turkey compared to the size of the student body poses a serious threat to future quality in higher education.

The report, which was written over two years, stated that there are over 141,000 academics in Turkish universities, according to YÖK data from April 2014. Comparing the number of academics per student to universities in other countries, the report concludes that 45,000 more academics are needed to bring Turkey in line with international standards.

The report focuses on a comparison between the number of academic staff per student in universities in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and universities in Turkey. According to this comparison, there is an average of one academic for every 16 university students in the OECD member countries, while Turkey would have to employ 9,000 more academic staff each year for the next five years to arrive at the same ratio. The study also found that only 20,000 of the total number of academics in Turkey hold a PhD degree.

Determining the three key aspects needed for the report’s vision for Turkish education in 2023, the report said that a transition from quantitative growth to qualitative development, increasing human resource potential in academic life and internationalization should be top priorities.

The report also compared recent increases in the number of students who enter higher education with other countries, concluding that the rising number of university students – which has increased by 121 percent since 2012 — places Turkey globally in sixth place according to this criteria, after China, Iran, Bangladesh, India and Brazil.

The study found that while there were 3.5 million university students in 2010, including those enrolled in long-distance education at Anadolu University, the total number of students exceeded 4.9 million in 2013 and reached 5.5 million in 2014.

According to the recent data from YÖK, over 1.75 million students are studying in associate degree programs (32 percent), 3.37 million students are enrolled in undergraduate programs (62 percent) while 329,000 (6 percent) are enrolled in graduate programs. A total of 2.54 million students attend distance university programs.

–Number of long-distance university students reaches 2.5 million

The report also emphasized that the number of students who study in long-distance university programs risen dramatically over the last three decades, and there has been a similar increase in the numbers of departments in faculties.

According to the report, there were only 26,626 university students enrolled in distance courses at Anadolu University in 1982, but this figure jumped to 250,000 in 1990, further rising to 620,000 in 1995. While the ratio of the distance university students fell from 40 percent of the total number of university students to 24 percent in 2014, its share of the total number of students has steadily increased due to Law No. 6111 on Higher Education in 2011 which removed limitations to the number of distance university students. However, the fact that there are over 1 million students who have registered and then failed to start a course, or whose registration is frozen, are also counted in the system, indicates an immediate need for a change in this area. (Cihan/Today’s Zaman)