22 SES 11 B, Academic Work and Professional Development
With the rapid increase of universities in Turkey in recent years, based on the higher education policy requiring at least one university in each city, raising qualified academicians for these newly established universities became a necessity. To address this need, a faculty development program (FDP) was initiated at the national level. The main purpose of this program is to train research assistants in developed universities on behalf of developing universities. After earning their doctoral degrees in the developed universities that train them through the faculty development program, graduates are guaranteed to be hired as academicians by the developing universities they are associated with. Although this faculty development program has been effective in addressing the academician shortage problem, it has not resolved all the problems associated with raising qualified academicians. Specifically it has not eliminated the problems of FDP graduate research assistants related to providing support for their development as academicians and related to their heavy workloads. For the purposes of this study the FDP graduate research assistants are defined In recent years the program has gone through some changes to address these problems (Ozatalay, 2013). Particularly, in 2010 the FDP program which was originally initiated and implemented under the Turkish National Developmental Planning Council (TNPC), was transferred over to the Turkish Council of Higher Education (TCH), along with some changes to the financial support provided to graduate research assistants and stricter time limitations to complete the program. But it remains to be seen whether these changes help address the problems experienced by the graduate research assistants in these programs.
When the studies conducted in The United States and Europe are considered, it becomes evident that the problems experienced in doctoral education are universal (Kehm, 2006). For example in the United States, only 50% of students who start a doctoral degree are able to earn a doctorate, and for those who do earn a doctorate, the time to degree completion from the start of the program is about 9-10 years in the Humanities (Berger, 2007; Bowen & Rudenstein, 1992). While in Europe, the problems in doctoral education stem from both the long time- to-degree periods and the need to raise more and better trained researchers (Kehm, 2006). Considering these difficulties, Kehm (2006) highlights the importance of developing institutional strategies to address the difficulties experienced in doctoral education. The faculty development program of Turkey (FDP) described above, can be consider as a strategy used at the institutional level to address the problems in doctoral education in Turkey, particularly related to raising qualified academicians. As indicated above this program is not without shortcomings, making it important to examine the problems experienced by graduate assistants who are part of the program and the extent to which those problems have been addressed by the updated program. Such an exploration will also shed light on what universities and higher education policy makers need to consider when developing strategies and policies to help address the problems in doctoral education.
Therefore the purpose of this study is to identify the difficulties graduate research assistants who are part of the FDP face as they are being groomed to become academicians in newly established universities in Turkey and whether the updated faculty development program (FDP) under the Turkish Council of Higher Education (TCH) had an impact on those problems.
What are the most commonly identified problems that graduate research assistants who are part of a faculty development program face in Turkey?
Did the recent changes made to the program make a difference in terms of the problems graduate research assistants identify?
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