At a time when there are growing concerns about declining academic freedoms in Turkey, the İstanbul-based Koç University is the only university from Turkey that managed to win a spot in the recently released Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.
Koç University saw a 14-spot fall in its ranking this year and was rated 465th. Eight other Turkish universities managed to make their way into the list of the top 1,000 universities: Bilkent University, Sabancı University, Middle East Technical University, Boğaziçi University, İstanbul Technical University, Ankara University, Hacettepe University and İstanbul University.
The list by the Quacquarelli Symonds, a British firm specializing in overseas education, analyzes six factors including academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio to compile the rankings that rate 1,011 universities from 80 countries and territories.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked first in the the 2021 QS University World Ranking, followed by Stanford and Harvard universities in the US.
The appointment of a loyalist by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as rector of the Turkey’s prestigious Boğaziçi University at the beginning of this year sparked widespread protests, with many students taking to the streets demonstrating against the rector’s appointment and asking the Turkish government to take its hands off universities and allow universities to elect their rectors.
In a controversial move in 2016, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government 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 will eliminate the autonomy of universities.