22 SES 03 B., Academic Freedom and Autonomy
The aim of this study is to determine what level of academic freedom we have as Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University and Turkish Higher Education. For this purpose, the opinions of the academic staff of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University are consulted. It is aimed to reveal the academic freedom in state universities by revealing the opinions of academicians on issues such as determining the place of higher education institutions in academic freedom, obstacles to academic freedom, what factors are effective and how they can be changed. In this study, academic staff from a state university are interviewed. As the academic freedom issue studies are the small number of subjects studied in Turkey, it is important. Besides the fact that our Higher Education System has been under the influence of more politicians in recent years has been another source of motivation in this study. At the end of the research, it is aimed to contribute to the literature about academic freedom.
Our research question: What is the perception of academic freedom of academic staff?
There is no clear definition of academic freedom because it can be perceived differently. This can be explained by the uncertainty in the objectives of higher education. Academic freedom, as a general definition, includes freedom of expression, learning, teaching and research.(Seggie ve Gökbel, 2014). Academics should have the right to do research without any authority or political pressure. In this respect, academic freedom is an indispensable element of universities.
Today when we look at the legal basis concerning the structure of higher education in Turkey in the first Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) emerges (Güner, 2017). Higher Education has restructured in academic, institutional and administrative aspects by Higher Education Law No. 2547 (Higher Education Law, 1981) Hence, the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK), which is a unit with autonomy and a public legal personality within the framework of the duties and authorities given by the articles of the Constitution, is transformed into the only institution responsible for all higher education. (Constitution, 1982). Academic freedom concept differs in foundation universities and public universities. Since there is a trusteeship at the foundation universities, a more autonomous government can be mentioned. This directly affects academic freedom, too. As it is in the final development plan, having a centralized structure of higher education in Turkey it is negatively affected to compete with his contemporaries (Çelik ve Gür, 2014). This situation raises the need for reform in higher education. Four factors affecting academic freedom in higher education; the ideological views of academics, the thought of knowledge as relative, multiculturalism and postmodernism are stated as.(Güner, 2017). Academic accountability is also closely related to academic freedom. Academic accountability is important in terms of revealing the effectiveness and efficiency of higher education institutions (Doğan, 2015).
Rosovsky (2004), stated for some academics who have earned the right to tenure, they have been accused of disrupting their work after tenured. Does being tenured have an impact on academic freedom? Güner (2017), stated that tenure is closely related to academic freedom and stated that the tenure is the assurance of academic freedom.
Compared with practices in countries such as Germany, England, France, Finland, USA, Canada and Japan, it is possible to say that the academic freedom of higher education in Turkey is a little bit more limited due to the YÖK. The reasons why YÖK is an obstacle to the autonomy of the Turkish Council of Higher Education are, two important requests have not accepted at the establishment stage: Rector selection from outside and students to have a say in management (Doğramacı, 2007).
This study was carried out using qualitative research method. In this study, the case study of qualitative research designs was used. The study can be explained as the only holistic single case pattern as it covers only the teaching staff at the ÇOMÜ Faculty of Education. The study group consisted of four professors, four associate professors and four asisstant professors selected from the teaching staff at the Faculty of Education. As the participants are selected among the academic staff with post-doctoral titles, criterion sampling method is used. Semi-structured interview form is used as data collection tool. Expert opinion is obtained from two faculty members to determine the structure and language validity of the data collection tool. Semi-structured interview form is arranged by taking into consideration expert opinions. Interviews are conducted with the participants through the semi-structured interview form which is given its final form. The participants are asked six questions and supportive questions. The data are analyzed with descriptive analysis. Codes, categories and themes have been created by carefully reading the data and taking into account the interview questions. The findings were evaluated according to the themes. The reason for the descriptive analysis is to provide clearer information about the subject. While preparing the questions, descriptive analysis is considered.
In this study, it is aimed to reveal the academic freedom status of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University according to the opinions of the academic staff. For this purpose, some questions are asked to the academic staff in order to get their opinions on academic freedom. As a result of the academic staff views, what is meant by the concept of academic freedom, being free in the teaching processes, being free in the process of research and publication, obstacles to academic freedom and what should be done to ensure academic freedom are determined. When defining academic freedom, the academic staff mostly stated that it’s deciding freely on the subject of publication. They also express academic freedom as freely deciding on the course content, course resources, evaluation processes and the person to work with. They state that they are generally free in teaching processes while one instructor says that the faculty of education is not free in teaching processes as the course contents are determined by the Turkish Council of Higher Education. They express that they are generally free in the case of being free in research and publication processes. However, they also emphasize that political factors are a pressure factor in publication process or criticizing publications. They mention the most ideological concerns, tenure and fears about academic promotion are the obstacles to academic freedom. In order to ensure academic freedom, merit should be given the highest level of importance. Moreover, it is stated that ideological views should not be in the forefront and evaluations should be made in accordance with scientific principles.
Anayasa. (1982). Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Anayasası, Ankara. Access Address: https://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2709.pdf. Date of Access: 20.01.2019. Çelik, Z. ve Gür, B. S. (2014). Neden Yükseköğretim Reformu Gerekli?, Yeni Türkiye, 58, Ankara. Doğan, D. (2015). Türkiye’deki Yükseköğretim Kurumlarında Hesap Verebilirlik ve Akademik Özgürlük, Osmangazi Üniversitesi, Eğitim Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Eğitim Bilimleri Anabilim Dalı, Eğitim Yönetimi, Teftişi, Planlaması ve Ekonomisi Bilim Dalı (Unpublished PhD Thesis), Eskişehir. Doğramacı, İ. (2007). Türkiye’de ve Dünyada Yükseköğretim Yönetimi. Ankara: METEKSAN AŞ. Güner, H. (2017). Eğitim Fakülteleri Öğretim Üyelerinin Akademik Özgürlük Algılarının İncelenmesi, Marmara Üniversitesi, Eğitim Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Eğitim Bilimleri Anabilim Dalı, Eğitim Yönetimi ve Denetimi Bilim Dalı (Unpublished PhD Thesis), İstanbul. Rosovsky, H. (2004). Üniversite Bir Dekan Anlatıyor. Ankara: TÜBİTAK Popüler Bilim Kitapları Serisi. Seggie, F. N. ve Gökbel, V. (2014). Geçmişten Günümüze Türkiye’de Akademik Özgürlük (Analiz No. 98). Ankara: SETA. Yükseköğretim Kanunu. (1981). Yükseköğretim Kanunu (Kanun Numarası: 2547). Resmi Gazete, 6.11.1981, Sayı: 17506. Access Address: http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.2547.pdf. Date of Access: 20.01.2019.
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