SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 09, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Andalou University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On or around January 9, 2023, Andalou University summarily suspended professor Bülent Yücel for three months for a question he included on a January 9 constitutional law exam.

The question asked students to analyze the Turkish President’s power over state institutions, and referenced a closure case involving the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a 2022 bill law purportedly intended to combat disinformation (informally known as the “censorship law”), and instances of state-appointed trustees governing HDP municipalities. The aforementioned court case, which was submitted by prosecutors from Turkey’s Supreme Court in 2021, was opened due to HDP’s alleged ties to Kurdish militants.

The exam was voided by the university’s rectorate hours after it was held. Students were notified via text message that the exam would be rescheduled to January 19 and would contain new questions.

Following the cancellation of the exam, Yücel was suspended for three months.

According to reports, the rectorate cited article 53/B of the Law on Higher Education as reason for the suspension.

Students from the Faculty of Law denounced the suspension and protested outside the rectorate building on January 16.

In 2020, Yücel was dismissed from the position of Head of the Department of Constitutional Law without notice and prohibited from teaching the course ‘Constitutional Law II’.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the suspension of a scholar for their exercise of academic freedom. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against scholars for the responsible exercise of academic freedom. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, suspensions aimed at restricting or retaliating against such academic activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.