Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Perceptions of Academics towards the Impact of Foundation Universities on Turkish Higher Education*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Perceptions of Academics towards the Impact of Foundation Universities on Turkish Higher Education*

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the effects of foundation universities on the higher education system of Turkey through perceptions of academic staffin state and foundation universities. In this qualitative research, 15 members of academic staffwere interviewed for their perceptions regarding a variety of issues about foundation universities. Analysis of academic staffperceptions could be summarized as follows: stafftend to agree that foundation universities create employment opportunities; keep the students, who may otherwise have chosen to study abroad, in the country; and that they ease the financial burden of the state by providing higher education for students who may have been neglected by state universities. Increasing the number of graduates, raising quality through competition, and reversing the brain drain are also regarded as additional positive effects of foundation universities. In spite of the positive effects, academic staffalso mentioned some negative aspects which could be summarized as; offering only popular programs with high job prospects in order to attract students, accepting academically challenged but affluent students which could result in a differentiation in qualifications between state and foundation university graduates. Low job security and high turnover in some departments are also of some concern. Foundation universities are not deemed to be contributing sufficiently to academic research. In addition, the interventions of founders and board members are considered to hamper the process of institutionalization and autonomy. Perceptions regarding the future of these institutions predict an increase in the number and a widening gap in quality.

Key Words

Private Universities, Higher Education System, Global Trends in Education, Neo-Liberalism, Privatization in Education.

Free market and privatization trends which started in the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980s accelerated with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. Opinion among people and governments worldwide has shifted from the expectation that the state will deliver goods and services to a new faith in free market mechanisms. This shiftis reflected in education and particularly in higher education, which began to be regarded as a semi-public service. All over the world, tertiary education services are also offered by private sector (Aktan, 2007, p. 23).

Private higher education is the most dynamic and fastest growing sector of the twenty first century. A combination of unprecedented demand for access to higher education and the inability or unwillingness of governments to provide the necessary support has brought private higher education to the fore. Private higher education has long dominated higher education systems in Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. There has been a dramatic shiftfrom public to private tertiary education in Latin America, such that Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia now have at least half their students in private universities. Private higher education has also spurred many countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR (Altbach, 1999). In Turkey, the increasing number of foundation (not-for-profit private) universities, various other foundations and corporations formed around higher education institutions, the growing number of alternatives such as evening programs, offered at a higher fee than day programs in state universities in recent years, are some of the changes in funding of higher education (Senses, 2007).

Following the constitutional amendment in 1984, the first foundation university, Bilkent, was established. Since then, the number of private universities has reached 65 (Yüksekögretim Kurulu [YÖK], 2012). The expansion of private universities is primarily owed to the inability of public universities in updating their academic and organizational policies to meet global demand and submit to market pressures. …

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