Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Graduate Students' Perception of Standards and Accreditation in Higher Education in Turkey: A Qualitative Analysis

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Graduate Students' Perception of Standards and Accreditation in Higher Education in Turkey: A Qualitative Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction

Turkey having an Asiatic-Islamic cultural and educational background is a geographical, sociological and cultural bridge between Asia and Europe; between eastern and western attitudes, values and life styles. Since the last three decades, Turkey has appeared more receptive to western style of education (Mocan-Aydin, 2000).

As many countries, Turkey is also in search of improving educational institutions in order to satisfy social, economic and scientific expectations of the society. Since the foundation of Turkish Republic in 1923, education has been considered as the fundamental pillar of keeping up with civilized countries. Over the 89 years, education reforms have been an on-going process and the republic has shown great efforts to develop, adopt, upgrade, transform and orientate education and educational systems (Grossman & Sands, 2008; Mango, 2004). Within this period, impressive improvements have been witnessed such as rapid increase in the number of universities and schools; considerable raise in the literacy and enrolment rate of students, increase in education budget, restructuring teacher education system, and establishment of quality assurance system in higher education (Dundar & Lewis, 1999; Grossman & Onkol, 2006; Grossman, Sands, & Brittingham, 2010; MONE, 2002; Simsek & Yildirim; 2001). Some of these reforms are in full flaw today, while some needs to be revised, reorganised, and reactivated. Among these, the project of establishing and implementing quality assurance system in higher education though was considered one of the crucial leaps and commenced with great expectations; it has not been maintained so far. This is the concern of this paper. After introducing Turkish accreditation system, the core concepts and issues in the system will be examined in terms of Turkish graduate students' perceptions.

Accreditation System of Teacher Education in Turkey

Higher Education, particularly teacher education, has been of great significance in Turkey since the establishment of the Republic. Much of the consideration has always been mainly on the quality of education. In last two decade considerable reforms regarding quality development in higher education were carried out by Higher Education Council (HEC), the only authority of higher education in Turkey.

The first important reform, which began in late 1994, was an extension and conversion of the countywide teacher education system, focusing mainly on curriculum development and teacher training (Sands & Ozcelik, 1998). The HEC therefore established and standardized all current teacher education programs in 1997, revised them in 2007. Nowadays, the reform movements are still in progress in line with Bologna Process.

The second reform was the preparation and piloting of an accreditation model for education faculties. Though, the reform activities date back to the end of 1997, a nationwide system of standards and accreditation of universities and of departments within universities has not been completed. Yet, some pioneering higher education institutions, who search for international recognition, invited Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the first half 1990's (MEB, 2005). Several engineering programs in these pioneering universities were accredited by ABET and were given "substantial equivalence" which means that the program is comparable in program content and educational experience, but may differ in format or method of delivery (ABET, 2012; Erguder, 2006). Middle East Technical University (METU), one of the best technical universities in Turkey, was the first college to be accredited by ABET. After METU's success in accreditation, Bosphorus University in Istanbul commenced the accreditation process of their engineering programme and it was also successful in accreditation process in 2001. Finally, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, one of the best known private foundation universities, started the accreditation process and its engineering programme was also accredited by ABET. …

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