Voices of the Middle East and North Africa

Assault On Higher Education in Turkey

On January 1, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced his appointment of Melih Bulu, a long-time affiliate of the ruling Justice and  Development Party (AKP), as the new rector of Isatnbul’s Boğaziçi University, one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities. The appointment trampled  a long-standing tradition of electing rectors from within the university. Three days later, thousands of students gathered in front of the university to protest Erdoğan’s top-down decision aimed at controlling one of the few universities previously able to maintain some degree of institutional autonomy and academic freedom. In spite of governments’ heavy handed response, resistance to the government’s actions has continued.

To understand the government’s actions at Bogazici University, the ruling party’s strategy  for institutions of higher education, the ramifications of this strategy as well as the resistance by the students, the faculty and the staff of these institutions, we turn to Ayça Alemdaroğlu and  Elif Babül, whose auricle entitled  “Resists Authoritarian Control of the Academy in Turkey”was published on MERIP.org in February.


Ayçha Alemdarolou, Associate Director of the Program on Turkey and Research Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. She is a political sociologist, focusing on social and political inequality and change in Turkey and the Middle East

Elif Babül, Assistant Professor of anthropology at Mount Holyoke College

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