Abolishing of tuition fees met by double reactions
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
There are currently nearly 3.5 million university students in Turkey including private university students, according to statistics . DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKThe Turkish government’s step to abolish university tuition fees has been perceived as a positive step, yet it has also provoked questions, both from student groups and the lawyer of two students who are currently charged with protesting the government by demanding free education.
Nearly 1.5 million students will benefit from the new practice, government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said after a Cabinet meeting held on Aug. 27.
However, there are currently nearly 3.5 million university students in Turkey including private university students, according to the statistics from the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YÖK).
Students receiving distance and evening education will not benefit from the new practice, according to the new regulation.
‘For no reason’
However, the lawyer of the two students jailed for demanding free education in 2009 has criticized the changes, saying students Ferhat Tüzer and Berna Yılmaz were sentenced to eight and half years in prison for no reason.
“The specially authorized courts that charged Berna and Ferhat were removed, just like tuition fees, but the trials are still proceeding,” head of the Istanbul branch of the Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD), Taylan Tanay, told the Daily News yesterday.
Berna and Ferhat were tried on charges of creating terrorist propaganda after staging a protest demanding fee education.
Another student, Utku Çaybaş, who was sentenced to 10 months in jail in 2009 for taking part in an “illegal demonstration,” said the struggle he was involved in had brought the government to this point, but that he was not pleased either.
“The board decided not to jail me if I do not repeat my act, but it was my fundamental right to demand free education, I still do,” Çaybaş told the Daily News.
The changes came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 25 that he had “decided to abolish the tuition fees of universities.”
“Of the fees, 1.2 billion Turkish Liras were paid as education loans to students. This [financial support] comes from the state, however, ideological demonstrations were held [against the government],” Erdoğan said at the time.
Meanwhile, the “Öğrenci Kollektifleri” (Students’ Collectives) group, which has been protesting against fees for a number of years, has said it will hit the streets nationwide on Friday to protest “the government’s double standards.”
Neval Kösedağı, spokesperson of the group, said the step looked positive at first glance, but it was actually “insufficient and delusive.”
“We expect a new wave of university privatization, and abolishing tuition fees is just their distraction method,” she said.