23 SES 06 B, New Modes of Governing HE and Their Effects
Higher education in Turkey has undergone significant changes over the last decade due to national and international interests. In 2001, the Turkish government started the Bologna process and aimed at improving the quality of higher education. Together with the Bologna process the Justice and Development Party (AKP), who came to power in 2002, also made some changes to the system on national level. In this paper we specifically look at the policy changes in the higher education system since 2002 by the governing AKP in Turkey. The transition from an openly secularist government to a religiously rooted government affected the overall education system including the higher education. Some scholars suggest (see, Tugal and Atasoy) that Turkey has been under the secularist hegemony for the last century and now there is a state transformation towards an Islamic one, which has had the most impact on the education system. This is because education is a site where “theory and practice, culture and politics, inevitably merge together” (Borg, Mayo, & Buttigieg, 2002). This means, ideologies and cultural values can be easily transmitted and reproduced through education, more specifically through its curriculum, practices and processes.
Although there has been a considerable transition in education policies at all levels, in this study we are interested in Higher Education policies since higher education is necessary for equity and significant for shaping individuals who can contribute to making a fair society, model aspirations for other lives, support others through rectifying inequalities in society (Dreze and Sen, 1995). However, education policies are always linked to some kind of hegemonic agenda or political ideology and education policies “cannot be divorced from interests, from conflict, from domination or from justice” (Simons, Olssen, & Peters, 2009, p. 19). In the Turkish context, the policy changes made by AKP government implies that the changes include legislations with the task of setting the moral-religious compass for society. In the long-term, these changes can be defined as pendulum policies as no balance has been struck between freedoms these policies expanded on the one hand and restrictions on these freedoms on the other. In this paper, we look into following major policy changes on regulations in headscarf ban, improvement of access and retention, free access to public universities, new higher education law and repressive regulations on academic freedoms.
In so doing, this paper draws ideas from Gramsci’s concept of “hegemony”, “organic intellectuals” and “consent” to portray the government’s role in society and how higher education policies play an important role in maintaining the dominant class’ supremacy. The Gramscian concept of hegemony, which describes the dominance of certain social groups over others, helps to analyse different ideologies that have had an impact on the higher education system. The hegemonic view of policy process is concerned with the ruling class, who control “the agenda or the definition of problems” and who also have “the capacity to control the way men and women see social reality” (Parsons, 1995, p. 146). In this study, hegemonic discourse will be used a framework to analyse how the dominant group’s (in the Turkish context, it is the government) ideology become the norm in policy-making. Thus, the study aims to question to what extent aforementioned changes are made to support AKP’s own ideology and maintains its hegemony. The main research questions the study aims to address are:
To what extent AKP’s new higher education regulations aim to create a new public ideology?
To what extent transitions to conservatism in higher education policies expand and restrict freedoms?
Atasoy, Y., 2009. Islam's Marriage with Neoliberalism: State transformation in Turkey. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Borg, C., Mayo, P. & Buttigieg, J., eds., 2002. Gramsci and Education. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Dreze, J & Sen, A., 1995.I ndia, Economic Development and Social Opportunity. Oxford University Press. Simons, M., Olssen, M. & Peters, M.A., 2009. Re-Reading Education Policies: A Handbook Studying the Policy Agenda of the 21st Century. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Parsons, W., 1995. Public Policy: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis. Cheltenham : Edwar Elgar Publishing. Tuğal, C., 2009. Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism. Standford: Standford University Press. VanDijk, T.A., 1995. Aims of Critical Discourse Analysis. Japanese Discourse, 1, pp.17-27.
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