Higher Education in Turkey

Higher education includes all levels of institutions giving education past the secondary school level for a period of at least 17 years.

Higher education institutions include:
Higher education schools
Vocational higher education schools
Application and research centers

In the academic year 2001-2002 there were 76 universities, 53 of which belonged to the state and 23 to foundations. In these institutions 66,700 personnel were working, 63,000 in state universities and 3,700 in others.

After the national university entrance examination organized by the national examing body students, if they succeed, continue with their studies at a university. Foreign students take the Yös exam or provide equivalent credentials approved by the Higher Education Council (YÖK).

Universities provide either two or four years of education for undergraduate studies, while graduate programs last a minimum of two years. Some universities also ask for an additional year of English preparatory study to be completed before the start of studies, unless an exemption examination is passed.

There are around 820 higher education institutions including universities with a total student enrollment of over 1 million. Tertiary education is the responsibility of the Higher Education Council, and funding is provided by the state for public institutions that make up the bulk of the tertiary education system. There are 167 universities in Turkey, which are classified as either public or foundational (private) and 373,353 students were graduated from these universities in 2006. Public universities typically charge very low fees while private foundation universities are highly expensive with fees that can reach $30,000 per annum. Since 1998, universities have been given greater autonomy and were encouraged to raise funds through partnerships with industry.

The quality of education at the Turkish universities varies greatly, some providing education and facilities on par with internationally renowned schools (the technical universities are often compared with universities in the United States, and are regularly visited by the US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and their engineering programs deemed substantially equivalent to comparable programs in the US.

Turkish universities actively participate in the Socrates - Erasmus program of the European Commission, aiming to increase student and academician mobility within the European Union, the European Economic Area countries, and other EU candidate states. An increasing number of Turkish university students complete a part of their studies abroad at other participating countries' universities, and Turkish universities receive students of the same status from abroad. With the passage of law 2547, the rectors of all the public universities are appointed jointly by the faculty, Higher Education Council and the President of Turkey. The former president, Abdullah Gül, suggested that the system might be changed to eliminate the Higher Education Council and political influence.

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) coordinates basic and applied research and development, acting on proposed policies by the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA). There are more than 60 research institutes and organizations. Turkey's R&D strengths include agriculture, forestry, health, biotechnology, nuclear technologies, minerals, materials, IT, and defence.