An independent Turkish Academy of Sciences in serious jeopardy

In August 2011, a reformed Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) was established under governmental management and scientists across the world fear it will no longer act as an independent academy of science. In response to the changes in governance, many TÜBA members have threatened to resign and start their own academy independent of the government.

Euroscience President Enric Banda has written to the President and Prime Minister of Turkey urging them to reverse recent policy changes at TÜBA to restore a fair and free election of the TÜBA President and members by their scientific community.

TÜBA – 20 years in the making

Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) was founded in 1993 as a scientifically, financially and administratively autonomous organisation. It has been an driving force for excellence in science and education in Turkey. The associate, full and honorary members were elected exclusively on academic merit. TÜBA also played the role of scientific advisor to the government, published reports, textbooks, organised national, regional and international scientific meetings and awarded scholarships.

Moving away from autonomy

The August 2011 decree has brought fundamental changes to the structure and operation of TÜBA. A stronger top-down approach from the Turkish government has resulted in a loss of autonomy by the academy. New restrictions on the number of members mean it is unlikely that there will be elections for full members of TÜBA for a number of years.

The main concern is that TÜBA will be governed by the majority of members appointed by the government and the members elected on academic merit will be in minority. Members of TÜBA consider these changes incompatible with the rules and procedures of a respectable science academy. They say that ‘there is no science academy in the world where the majority of members and the president are appointed directly by the government.’

Leila Sattary
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