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Istanbul University Opened Its Door to All Citizens

Türkiye is the home to many successful universities, providing higher education to mostly the country’s citizens. With the strict eligibility rules and criteria, these universities have become more and more selective over the years.

In this competitive environment, getting into a successful university with many renowned academics and professors, such as Istanbul University, is seen as a great success, a door opening to a bright future.

This university was only open to its own students for many years, but, this year, on February 13th, 2024, the doors of Istanbul University were opened to any and all citizens. From now on, everyone is able to visit the campuses of the university in Beyazıt, Kadıköy, Büyükçekmece, Laleli, and Horhor. Citizens can visit the university between 08:30 am and 05:00 pm. However, this decision has sparked controversy among students, raising their concerns about the possible educational drawbacks of such a decision.

The main reason why these universities opened their doors to people other than their own students is the idea of the rector of the university, This whole action was the suggestion of the rector of Istanbul University, Professor Doctor Osman Bülent Zülfikar. He suggests that no university should be closed with doors and be “behind bars.” He expressed his thoughts with these words: “It was the end of the first month or the beginning of the second month of my presidency. This door was projected on the screen in the hall. What caught my attention was that our door was closed with bars. I said, 'There is something wrong here. The door of the university cannot be closed with bars. This is a painful thing. How can the university welcome its students with such an image?”.

Despite the good intentions behind this decision, it also had some unpleasant consequences. Curious citizens and also tourists entered the lecture halls, and observed the students. This sparked not only a distraction for the students but also a security concern.

People watching the lecture and the students without permission

Students of Istanbul University started petitions on social media and requested the administration to cancel their decision, posting photographs of disrupting people. Students also wrote that some of the people watching and listening to the lectures took pictures of the students without permission, breaching the law of personal data protection. They also started the hashtag “#UniversityNotMuseum” to raise awareness.

Additionally, student protests have been raising more attention and reaction from society everyday, sending a message to the administration of the university. Students are shouting different slogans such as “The doors are only closed for students!” and “Long live student solidarity!” showing their reaction to the administration.

Some important journalists also commented on this issue. Fatih Altaylı said “The university garden is now a very insecure place … students, are very disturbed by the security risks this poses, and they see it as inevitable that something unpleasant will happen at any moment." expressing all the concerns regarding the current situation of both universities and Türkiye.

After all the harsh reactions, protests and the awareness raised on social media ended up in an action from the university, the administration banned citizens from entering the lectures, in order to make students feel better and more relaxed.

We do not know what will happen in the following days and whether the university will fully close their doors again. But we do know that as long as this decision stays in ruling, students’ academic lives could get progressively worse and more threatened.

Works cited

Sporx. “Üniversite Kampüsleri Halka Mı Açılıyor? - 2024.” Sporx, 15 Feb. 2024. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Türkiye, Sputnik. “İstanbul Üniversitesi Ziyarete Açıldı: Ders Yapan Öğrencileri Izlediler.” Sputnik Türkiye, 2024. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Odatv. “Vatandaşlar Amfilere Girdi: Halka Açılan İstanbul Üniversitesi’nden Ilk Görüntüler.” Odatv, 13 Feb. 2024. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

‌“İstanbul Üniversitesi Halka Açıldı Vatandaş Amfiye Girdi Öğrencilerden Tepki Gecikmedi.” Samimi Haber - Son Dakika Haberleri. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

“İstanbul Üniversitesi Öğrencileri Protesto Için Bir Araya Geldi!” Bursada Bugün, 2024.  Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.


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