Rector Prof. Dr. Asim Vehbi, Higher Education Speaks at KTTO’s Panel

ARUCAD) Rector Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi made a presentation on the situation of higher education on the island at the panel titled “Mid-Term Programme Proposal Draft” prepared by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KKTO).

ARUCAD Rector Prof. Dr. Asım Vehbi made an informative presentation on the state of higher education in the island at one of the panels held at The Arkın Colony Hotel on November 18, 2021, within the scope of the Medium Term Programme Proposal Draft, which KTTO called the “Setting the Sails Programme”.

Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Ali Başman asked, “How has the pandemic process affected higher education, what can be done to increase the competitiveness of this field in the coming period?” ARUCAD Rector Vehbi, who began his talk by emphasising that there should be politicians who have the vision and will to implement the development plans related to higher education:

“The year before the pandemic, according to the figures of the Ministry of National Education, on the Island; There were 103 thousand students. When we look at the figures for this year, we see 77 thousand students entered into the system so far. My guess is that this number will increase up to 85 thousand at most. This means that we have a student loss of 15%. Talking about 2020 figures will not be very beneficial. There has been a steady increase since the 2000s, and in the pre-pandemic period, we actually had a levelling off. Especially the decrease in the arrival of Turkish citizens has been experienced in the last three years. We relayed this data to the government, but we did not receive a response.

Research conducted with 103 thousand students; shows that there is an income of 1.5 billion from higher education. Of this money, if the student pays full tuition fees, 28% of this amount goes to universities as tuition fees. The remaining 28% goes to food and beverage expenses, 17% to accommodation, 5% to domestic transportation, 5% to communication, 5% to clothing, 5% to airline, 3% to stationery expenses, 3% to social expenses and 1% to other expenses. and all of these expenditures are distributed directly or indirectly to 45 sectors.”

Vehbi: “The Ministry of Higher Education should be established”

Vehbi continued as follows, pointing out that this year’s higher education scholarship rate is around 87% and this represents an immense sacrifice made by the universities. As we have said from the beginning, if higher education constitutes approximately 25% of the national income, then higher education should be directly represented in the cabinet, a ministry should be established and examples of this can be seen in many countries. In addition to this, a state policy regarding higher education needs to be developed. We need to ensure that this policy is sustainable. We need to be a self-critical over the point that higher education has not been able to become a union established by law.”

Vehbi ended his presentation by addressing the problems in higher education and said, “We have problems with political recognition, weakening communication with YÖK, and internal transportation and accommodation. For example, 10 thousand students per day for 5 universities in Kyrenia have to start their lectures at 09:00 in the morning. In spite of political obstacles, the universities are required to transport the majority of these students. I would like to talk about the critical problem of accommodation for students and the landlord/tenant problems which are controlled by legal regulations all over the world, but is at a high level in our country, Can we regulate them with arbitration institutions, yes; do we want to regulate them? We have question marks with this question.”

Names such as Hüseyin Çavuş Kelle, Ercan Turhan, Alp Cengizalp, Ali Kamacıoğlu and Hilmi Kansu, respectively, took the floor and shared the draft of the Medium Term Programme Proposal with the public in the series of panels that Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) called the “Setting the Sails Programme”, which took place on Thursday, November 18th.


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