Overhaul of university exams out of question for now: Turkey’s higher education board head
ANKARAThe head of the Higher Education Board [YÖK], Yekta Saraç, said in a recent interview that admission into universities without a national exam was out of the question for now, but the board was considering “simplifying the exam system,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Sept. 22.
“A central examination that provides social justice will be conducted again this year … Radical changes on which officials do not work hard can sometimes have demolishing effects. Because of this we have preparations to simplify the [university] admission system in line with a simpler exam system,” Saraç told the agency.
Discussions for a change to the current national university entrance exam came from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as he told reporters on Sept. 19 that the government was also mulling a new system for universities in addition to the announced abolishment of the Transition from Basic Education to Secondary Education (TEOG) exam.
“[Change in the university entrance exam system] will also happen. YÖK is working on that area too,” Erdoğan had said.
Erdoğan’s statements were interpreted as an overhaul of university entrance exams, but the YÖK head Saraç denied the claims, saying for now an admission system without an entrance exam was not possible.
“A child coming from an area in Anatolia with limited means can be admitted at a leading university in Turkey with this central exam system. Then, the mechanism is fair,” Saraç said.
The YÖK head said the board has been working to improve certain parts of the university exam system over the past year, but this work had nothing to do with plans to shift the system to one without an admissions exam.
“Our work at YÖK aims to eliminate the problems of the current central placement exam, to improve them, to simplify these exams especially and make their management easier. As our president has very rightfully said, we need to lower the pressure of exams on students,” Saraç said.
“Exam stress puts pressure on students at every level of education. This also has a negative impact on education and gives us such a task: To bring a regulation to Turkey that will reduce stress levels and make our students face a simpler system,” he said.
Although they were working on a new system that “simplified” the current admission system, Saraç called on students and their parents “not to be concerned” regarding the change.
“It will not be a change that will affect the way of studying [for students],” he said.