Turkish institutions of higher education are under the direction of Higher Education Law no. 2547, dated 04.11.1981. The Board of Higher Education of Turkey (YÖK), which was established within the framework of centralized governance, is given by law the position of sole authority and executor of all proposed higher education strategies in the country.
The Board of Higher Education prepared a development plan for the first time in 1991, and this plan encompassed the years from 1992 to 2012. The Higher Education Development Plan, which was prepared according to the government program dated 05.07.1991, was implemented for just one year but then was rescinded on the grounds that it was not comprehensive enough. For the next thirteen years, from 1991 to 2002, despite some efforts made in that direction, it was regularly pointed out that there was a necessity for a detailed strategic plan which would be prepared and shared with all relevant stakeholders. Finally in 2002, a Regulation on the Evaluation and Improvement of Academic Standards in Institutions of Higher Education was prepared and promulgated on 22.10.2002, in Official Gazette (Resmi Gazete) no. 249164. However, these regulations assigning and delegating a commission for the evaluation and monitoring of academic standards were not implemented until 2005. A workshop for the purpose of preparing groundwork for reforms concerning the Higher Education Law was held by a group of professors between 2003 and 2004.
The years 2005-2006 were important for the development of higher education strategies, with the Regulation on Work and Activities of Strategy Development Offices coming into force in 2006. Section C of Law 5436 dating from 2005 contains provisions for the establishment of an office for Strategy Development under YÖK and strategy development offices at universities and technology institutes. A Higher Education Strategy Commission was founded to prepare the first draft of the Higher Education Strategy Document. The Commission met for the first time on 14-15 November, 2005 with the rectors and related units of universities. The draft was presented on 03.07.2006 to the President of the Turkish Republic along with the members of YÖK, commission members, and the participants of the November meeting. The draft was revised and finalized after the appending of comments made by stakeholders, and the final document, titled “Turkey’s Higher Education Strategy,” was published on 19.02.2007.
In tandem with strategy building activities, the Regulation for the Evaluation and Quality Improvement of Academic Standards (22.10.2002) was revised substantively and its final version was published in Official Gazette no. 25942 on 20.09.2005. Following this, a Guidebook for the Evaluation and Improvement of Academic Standards was published by the Commission on Evaluation and Improvement of Academic Standards in May of 2006. Today, all universities are responsible for preparing and submitting to YÖK annual strategic reports under the guidelines stated in this guidebook.