Draft omnibus bill tightens disciplinary provisions for academics

Draft omnibus bill tightens disciplinary provisions for academics

Draft omnibus bill tightens disciplinary provisions for academics Turkey’s ruling party has sent a draft omnibus bill proposing a tightening of the disciplinary system in universities, including provisions concerning academics, while also demanding mandatory apprenticeships for secondary school students and outlining plans to open six new universities. 

The draft bill outlines changes to the current disciplinary provisions in universities, listing causes of four types of punishments, namely, reprimands, forfeiture of allowances, suspension of career promotions and suspension from duty. According to the amendments, academics’ political activities will also be punishable. 

Membership in a political party, political campaigning or joining in the activities of a political party were listed as possible causes of punishment, in addition to joining or supporting “acts of terror or division.”

In a shift from current practices, the head of Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK), a seat currently held by Professor Yekta Saraç, will have the capacity to personally launch an investigation against any academic as a “disciplinary chief.”

The bill also includes provisions punishing plagiarism, sexual or physical assault and other crimes. 

Meanwhile, the age of retirement for academics was also pushed back to 75 in order to strengthen university faculties, reports suggest. 

YÖK recently attracted criticism from a number of academics after issuing a critical statement on a petition signed by more than 1,000 local and international academics in January, calling on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to end security operations in southeastern Anatolia and return to the negotiation table for talks to resolve the Kurdish issue. 

“The declaration issued by a group of academics that describes our state’s ongoing struggle against terror in the southeast as ‘massacre and slaughter’ has put our entire academic world under suspicion,” read the statement issued by YÖK. 

“This declaration cannot be associated with academic freedom. Providing the security of citizens is the primary responsibility of the state,” it said.

Mandatory apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is also set to become mandatory for secondary school students in four-year schools providing formal or non-formal education in addition to technical and vocational institutions. 

Currently, students are trained in in-school workshops and laboratories under the supervision of their teachers. However, the draft bill proposes that students receive their training during mandatory apprenticeships at related enterprises. 

The students will be entitled to monthly salaries no lower than 20 or 30 percent of the minimum wage. 

Six new universities

At the same time, five new state universities and a private university will open their doors across the country. 

Three “technology” universities will be built in the northwestern province of Eskişehir, Black Sea province of Sivas and southern province of Mersin while two universities are set to open in the Black Sea province of Trabzon and eastern province of Van. A private university will also be built by sports club Fenerbahçe in Istanbul.