In support of the Turkish higher education community

In support of the Turkish higher education community

Three years ago in 2013, more than 4800 international higher education professionals from all around the world gathered in Istanbul to celebrate the EAIE’s 25th Annual Conference. That time was marked by protests in Taksim Square and highlighted the need for international and intercultural collaborations in higher education. Leading up to the event we established strong relationships with Turkish universities and we continue to work closely with Turkey’s higher education community.

Since the attempted coup that occurred on 15 July 2016, Turkish authorities have been targeting the public sector, including the academic community. Recent reports state that more than 15,000 education ministry officials have lost their jobs and over 1500 university deans have been asked by Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) to resign. Furthermore, travel restrictions have been placed, and academics abroad have been instructed to return to Turkey. These actions have been acknowledged by Scholars at Risk – a network of individuals, higher education institutions and professional groups working to protect threatened scholars – as “a broad campaign against intellectuals and intellectual expression, in violation of Turkey’s international and domestic legal obligations to protect institutional autonomy and academic freedom”.

The fundamental values of higher education

In the spring issue of Forum magazine on ‘Internationalisation in a conflicted world’, the EAIE interviewed the founding Executive Director of Scholars at Risk, Rob Quinn. Rob reminded us that international educators are in a unique position to make a stand for the fundamental values of higher education, a sector that works as “an engine for culture, justice, stability, and prosperity”. These are values closely aligned with the EAIE’s mission and vision for our sector.
We firmly believe that international education and exchange deepens appreciation of society and is absolutely essential to the prosperity of societies and individuals alike. We stand behind the ideals that everyone has the right to free speech, the right to be educated, as well as the freedom to have opposing views and to engage in discussion and debate.
Organisations such as European Association of Universities (EUA), the International Association of Universities (IAU) and the European Students’ Union (ESU) have echoed their solidarity for the higher education sector in Turkey. We join in supporting Turkish colleagues working in international higher education and all those who work to bring together different cultures, nationalities, and professions to foster knowledge exchange and promote partnership development.