Higher education is comprised of all postsecondary programs that are at least two years in length. The academic year begins in October and ends in July. The languages of instruction are English, French, German, and Turkish. The higher education system consists of fifty-three state and nineteen private universities and non-university institutions of higher education, such as colleges and police and military academies. Public universities' academic and administrative staff receive civil service status and can earn tenure. Research assistants and assistant professors are non-tenure track positions.
Until 1984, there were no private universities in Turkey. Higher Education Law Number 2547 allowed non-profit foundations to establish universities that must be accredited periodically. The Council of Higher Education (YOK) supervises and regulates all private universities. It is possible for a private university to receive public funds, if it meets certain criteria.
The law founds universities, faculties, institutions, and four-year schools. They offer degrees at three levels or stages: bachelors, masters and doctorate. Student who complete the first stage of a four-year two-stage program earn a pre-Licenciate degree. When the four-year program is completed, they receive the Licenciate degree. Dentistry and veterinary medicine programs are five-years long. Medicine is a six-year program that leads to the Doktor degree. In engineering, a Mühendis Diplomasi is awarded after completion of a four-year program.
To enter the second level of higher education, students must first take an entrance examination. If accepted into a program, they must complete an additional two years of study. The first is primarily devoted to course work, and the second is primarily spent writing a thesis. The Uzmanlik Belgesi (specialist certificate) is conferred in agriculture, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine. To work toward the Yüksek Lisans Diplomasi (Higher Licenciate Degree), an individual must first pass an entrance examination and then complete two years of study.
Those completing of the third state of higher education earn a Doktora Diplomasi (Doctoral Degree). Candidates must have completed the previous stages and must pass an entrance examination. The degree is conferred after two years of additional study and completion of a doctoral dissertation. The Tip Uzmanlik Belgesei (specialist certificate) in medicine is conferred on those who complete advanced studies. This degree is the equivalent of a Doktora Diplomasi.
In November 1981, Law Number 2547 established the Higher Education Council (YOK), a twenty-two member autonomous organization that connects all universities and higher education institutions and coordinates their activities. Seven of the members are elected by the Interuniversity Council, seven are appointed directly by the President of the Republic, and eight are appointed by the government, mostly from the senior civil servants. The term of office is four years, and council member may be reappointed. A nine-member executive committee elected by the council handles YOK's day-to-day operation. The Minister of National Education represents higher education in Parliament and can chair YOR meetings, but he has no vote. Decisions made by YOK do not have to be ratified by the Ministry.
YOK prepares short and long-term plans to establish and develop higher education institutions and to educate the teaching staff needed either in Turkey or abroad. One of the council's primary goals is reorganizing the current higher education system and freeing it from a centralized, bureaucratic structure. To accomplish this goal, YOK is working to increase the power of the boards of directors and faculty at the universities and faculties and to improve the relationships with industries. Another focus of YOK is working to ensure the education-training systems and programs meet international systems and standards. Open university education using distance-learning programs has supplemented the formal education programs. A non-profit foundation to establish higher education law went into effect in 1981.
In addition to YOK, two other bodies greatly influence higher education administration: the Interuniversity Council, which is comprised of all the rectors of all universities and one member elected by the senate of each university, and the Turkish University Rectors' Committee, which is made up of all university rectors and five ex-rectors.
Effective 1998-1999, admission to higher education is based upon a national entrance exam, which has verbal and quantitative sections. Those scoring between 105 and 120 points on the exam are offered a limited choice of programs. The Student Selection and Placement Center administer the exam each year. This center was established in 1974. In 1981 it became affiliated with YOK.
Anadolu University offers both a two-year and a four-year degree via distance learning. Lectures are televised. Students accepted into the program must meet stringent entrance requirements.
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