Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed Boğaziçi University, one of the top universities in the country, is engaged in activities against Turkish values, Turkish people and Turkish state, reported by online news outlet Ahval on Sunday.
Addressing the members of an alumni organisation at the university, Erdoğan was quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) as saying that Boğaziçi is not successful and could not be a global brand because it is ‘at odds’ with the Turkish culture.
Erdoğan also accused the academics at the university of adhering to a ‘certain ideology,’ and being biased against others.
Founded in 1863, Boğaziçi University is one of the major research universities in Turkey. It was ranked as the best university in Turkey on U.S. News & World Report , and among the top five according to Times Higher Education Rankings .
The previous Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Erdoğan governments, has a doctoral degree from Boğaziçi, while former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller taught economics there.
The university is known for its liberal atmosphere and was one of the few institutions which stood against the Islamic headscarf ban implemented by previous governments.
But Erdoğan’s resentment against Boğaziçi University is not new. Following the failed coup attempt in July 2016, Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and issued a series of executive decrees that limit political rights and vastly expanded the president’s powers.
Erdoğan on November 2016 has used his executive powers to overrule Boğaziçi University’s internal elections and appointed the current university president Mehmet Özkan. Dozens of academics signed a statement in protest, saying that the abolition of university elections violate academic independence, Turkish news outlet Duvar has reported at the time.
The issue of whether President Erdoğan has taken a formal university education or not has been a major subject of debates in Turkey in recent years. Possessing a university diploma is one of the eligibility requirements for serving as a President of Turkey according to Turkish constitution. However, many politicians and media outlets have claimed that Erdoğan doesn’t have a valid university diploma.