A crackdown on Turkey’s higher education sector is hurting international academic collaborations and student and scholar exchanges.
A joint statement signed by 42 American and European scholarly groups describes what’s happening in Turkey as a “massive and virtually unprecedented assault” on principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression and says “the crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government.”
Since a July 15 coup attempt, Turkey’s government has reportedly suspended, detained or placed under investigation tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, judges, teachers and civil servants in a push to rid government and educational institutions of suspected followers of Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric whom the Turkish government accuses of being behind the failed coup (Gülen has denied any involvement). It has ordered the closure of 15 universities and 1,043 private schools suspected of links to Gülen. The government has also reportedly detained academic staff, suspended four university rectors and demanded the resignation of all university deans, 1,577 of them. In a statement about the forced resignations, the Council of Higher Education described it as “a precautionary measure” and said it is “very likely” most universities will reinstate the deans after an investigation.
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