Erdoğan appoints celebrity theologian as YÖK member

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has appointed Professor Nihat Hatipoğlu, a celebrity theologian who frequently appears on TV shows and is treated like a pop star by his audience, as a member of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK), according to a statement from YÖK on Friday.

A total of 7,316 academics have been dismissed from their posts by government decrees in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

According to another statement from the press office of the presidency on Saturday, President Erdoğan also appointed rectors to Abdullah Gül University, Çankırı Karatekin University, Iğdır University, Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University, Siirt University and İbn Haldun University.

University elections were cancelled by a government decree in October.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government issued two decrees late in October, which among other things canceled the intra-university elections that used to be held to elect university rectors. That position is now directly appointed by the president.

According to the previous system in Turkey, universities held their own elections, but the ultimate decision lay with the president. Erdoğan insisted that the abolition of the election system would be beneficial for the country.

The move attracted widespread criticism in that it would eliminate the autonomy of universities.

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