“Universities, Turkey, and the World”

On December 20th, 2011, along with the opening ceremony for the academic year, Kadir Has University hosted a panel titled “Universities, Turkey, and the World” which was moderated by journalist and writer Taha Akyol. Dr. Nusret Aras, Dr. Üstün Ergüder, Dr. Tosun Terzioğlu and Dr. Aydın Uğur participated in the panel as speakers, discussing educational systems at universities around the world and the possibilities they offer.

Rectors from various universities, academic personnel, legal professionals, journalists, and Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, the governor of Istanbul, joined the opening ceremony. Can Has, the head of the Board of Trustees at Kadir Has University, gave a speech, noting that the joint projects set up between Khas and leading universities around the world have added prestige to our institution. He noted: “In the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of students coming to our university as part of the Erasmus student exchange program. Similarly, a growing number of our students and faculty have gone abroad as part of the same program. I would like to express my gratitude to our academic personnel who have made this possible, and I wish the best of success to our students.”

Nuri Has, president of the Has Foundation, pointed out that while the foundation is just twenty years old, it has made great progress in that time and that it has set up numerous educational facilities at Kadir Has University as well as at Erciyes University and Marmara University. He also highlighted that fact that since 2008, the foundation has set up twenty-five primary and high schools across the country. “In addition,” he noted, “the foundation has made major contributions to the construction of the conference hall, city museum, and world trade center in the Kadir Has Culture Park in Kayseri. Moreover, the foundation has participated in the construction of a teacher’s retirement home and a Red Crescent Medical Center.”

The president of our university, Dr. Mustafa Aydın, stated in his talk that the administration has held to the determination for progress which constituted the basis of the founding of the university: “In 1997, when the university was founded and had just four students and four instructors, the goal had been to become a university adhering to international standards. We have kept sight of our targets while employing varying strategies over the years, and today our university boasts nearly 250 faculty members and just as many personnel. We have over 5,000 graduates and students, six faculties, two institutes, and three vocational schools, and are holding fast to our goals.” Dr. Aydın emphasized that the university’s core principles are synergy, unity, sharing, and service for the community, and he noted: “What we share is knowledge that we produce and disseminate. However, the most important element that defines our university is a foundational sense of universal understanding. That is the reason why today’s panel bears the title ‘Universities, Turkey, and the World.’”

Turkish Universities Score 1.5 Points out of 8

Dr. Nusret Aras gave the first talk, and noted that many of the leading universities in the world are located in the Unites States. He pointed out, however, that many of these universities have extremely large budgets, such as Harvard University, which has a net worth of $37 million and annually spends $4 billion a year on students and faculty members. Dr. Aras went on to note that while Harvard University and Ankara University have nearly the same numbers of students, Harvard spends $114,550 per student and Ankara University spends just 7,468 Turkish lira per student annually. Nonetheless, Dr. Aras pointed out that the university is still able to secure a place in the top 500 universities around the world, a notable success. Dr. Aras also noted that according to the criteria for financial autonomy, Turkish universities only scored 1.5 points out of 8.

Dr. Üstün Ergüder, who served as the rector of Boğaziçi University, pointed out in his talk that only about 12% of graduates from engineering faculties actually end up working as engineers, while the remainder are employed as administrators or business owners. He asserted that we need to ask ourselves, “Are we providing the right form of education?” Dr. Ergüder stated that in today’s world, universities need to break out of their paradigms, be more flexible, and be open to innovation. He concluded, however, that the state university system in Turkey limits just how innovative universities can be, because it attempts to create a system that is based on a standard average.

Dr. Tosun Terzioğlu remarked that just as in the rest of the world, there is an increased demand for university education in Turkey which has led to the proliferation of universities. He noted, however, that universities are increasingly incumbent upon stakeholders, including families, students, and the state. He emphasized that universities do not merely provide information through education, and that they are also responsible for helping the youth develop as mature individuals. Dr. Aydın Uğur also argued that the key duty of universities is to help students learn how to express their ideas in a clear, straightforward manner.

Recognition of Leading Faculty Members for 2010-2011

This year, three faculty members at Kadir Has University received awards for their academic performance. Assistant professor Mary Louise O’Neil from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was granted an award for excellence in education, assistant professor Serhat Erküçük from the Faculty of Engineering received an award for excellence in research, and professor Erdal Panayırcı, also from the Faculty of Engineering, was granted an award for academic achievement for his participation in the project “Space-time Block Coded Spatial Modulation.”