New model to be implemented after Istanbul University split: Top official

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Higher Education Board (YÖK) head Yekta Saraç has claimed that the controversial splitting up of Turkey’s oldest university, Istanbul University, will give it “more autonomy.”

Protests are ongoing among students and academics against the splitting of Istanbul University, which will lead to the founding of a new offshoot, Istanbul Cerrahpaşa University.

“Although Istanbul University will be split into two it could better be described as a ‘reorganization,’ as we are planning new coordination among the sub-units. We have been thinking of a new system in which the two structures, which will also be two separate legal entities, will conduct academic activities together in harmony,” Saraç told daily Hürriyet, while accompanying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his official visit to Uzbekistan and South Korea.

“The new opportunities of this model, which will grant them more power to take decisions compared to other universities, will be unique to these Istanbul universities and the results will be seen in due course,” he added.

Articles approved

Meanwhile, six articles of the bill submitted to parliament to found 20 new universities and split up several other universities were approved after debates in the general assembly in the early hours on May 3.

Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz defended the contentious proposal saying that splitting universities has produced positive results in Turkey and other countries before.

“Hacettepe University was split from Ankara University. There were similar criticisms in those days but now we see those criticisms were not accurate. Can anyone now claim that Hacettepe University lags behind Ankara University?” Yılmaz said.

Several opposition MPs blasted the practice of splitting older universities as “illogical.”

“There is no logic in this. Do you want to kill the spirit of these universities? … Do you have an eye on their estates?” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mustafa Balbay said.

According to the articles approved, many universities will take the name of the province where they are based, while the university in the eastern province of Erzincan will also bear the name of incumbent Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who hails from Erzincan.

Strong protests

Since the bill was submitted to parliament, hundreds of faculty members and students at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Medicine and Cerrahpaşa School of Medicine have protested the proposals.

“This project aims to destroy Istanbul University. We will not accept the uprooting of the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine or the Cerrahpaşa School of Medicine,” said Prof. Pınar Saip, head of the Istanbul Medical Chamber and a member of the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine on April 24.

“We will guard this historical value with our 300,000 students, 8,000 faculty members and millions of graduates,” Saip added.

Prof. Dr. Mert Savrun, Vice Rector of Istanbul University and a faculty member of the Cerrahpaşa School of Medicine, has resigned from his post in protest at the bill.

Some 5,000 academics have also signed a petition against the bill.

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