More than a thousand Turkish academic staff have been ordered to resign as president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to clamp down on political opposition in the aftermath of the country’s failed coup on 15 July.
The Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) has called for all 1,577 of the country’s university deans — the staff that head up each institution’s various academic faculties — to leave their posts.
Many of the deans may ultimately be re-appointed, but researchers say the move is designed to ensure that Erdoğan maintains tight political control over the education sector, following earlier purges of the country’s military, judiciary and police.
In Turkey’s schools, some 15,000 schoolteachers have been suspended and are under investigation, while 20,000 others have lost their licences to teach.
At an emergency meeting of 165 university rectors on 18 July in Ankara, YÖK had told university rectors to identify academics and administrators with connections to the Gülen movement — a religious and social organization that Erdoğan considers to be behind the coup — and to take steps to expel them. The council did not invite a further 28 rectors to that meeting, saying that their universities are suspected of being pro-Gülenist. Some of these institutions will be taken over by the state, YÖK said.
A researcher who did not want to be identified adds that all vacations at universities have also been cancelled, and that those on holiday have been asked to return.