DEMOCRATIZATION AND MASSIFICATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN TURKEY AND CHALLENGES AHEAD
DEMOCRATIZATION AND MASSIFICATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN TURKEY AND CHALLENGES AHEAD by Bekir S. Gür CSHE 3.16 (February 2016)
The imbalance between supply and demand of higher education has always been the greatest challenge for Turkey. To overcome this challenge, Turkey beginning in 2006 established new public universities, mostly in less developed provinces. Now one in two fresh high school graduates is being admitted to a higher education program. Yet, the rapid growth of higher education triggered debates about the quality of education. Based on an analysis of available statistics and reports, this essay analyzes this process of massification in Turkey, including a brief synopsis of its higher education system at the beginning of the new millennium, and then the rapid expansion after 2006. It then discusses four major challenges waiting to be addressed in this nation of some 80 million. First, there is still significant unmet demand for higher education in Turkey and there is no clear strategy on how to meet with the increasing demand in the coming years. Second, there is a substantial shortage as well as regional imbalance of quality faculty. Third, the governance structure of higher education system has been poor; the system is considered as too centralized, highly rigid, and out-of-date. Fourth, as Turkey abolished tuition fees at public universities since 2013, it needs to develop a sustainable financial model.