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Turkey: Universities
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Political Interest Groups > Universities


College teachers and students have acted as a pressure group in Turkey since the late 1950s, when they initiated demonstrations against university teaching methods, curricula, and administrative practices that they alleged resulted in an inadequate education. The violent repression of student demonstrations in the spring of 1960 was one of the factors that prompted that year's military coup. In 1960 both teachers and students generally were held in high public esteem because the universities were viewed as the centers where the future Kemalist elite was being trained. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, the universities became the loci of ideological conflicts among a multitude of political groups espousing diverse political, economic, and religious ideas. As students became progressively more radicalized and violent, armed clashes among rival student groups and between students and police increased in frequency and magnitude. By 1980 the military regarded the universities as a source of threats to Kemalist principles.

One of the aims of the military government that assumed power in 1980 was to regain state control over the universities. The regime created a Council of Higher Education, which was intended to provide a less autonomous, more uniform system of central administration. The regime purged ideologically suspect professors from the faculties of all universities and issued a law prohibiting teachers from joining political parties. Student associations lost their autonomy, and students charged with participating in illegal organizations became subject to expulsion. A cautious revival of campus political activity began in the 1990s, mainly around foreign policy issues. However, as of early 1995 the government's possession of the means and will to punish campus activists appeared to be intimidating most faculty and students.

Data as of January 1995

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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