A new program offering jobs for foreign academics saw a record number of applications in less than a week.
The Foreign Academics Information System (YABSİS), run by Turkey's state-run Higher Education Board (YÖK), enables foreigners to sign up for a database perused by Turkish universities. Academics upload their resumes to the online portal, and universities with openings for lecturers can pick among the applicants.
YÖK President Professor Yekta Saraç told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they received about 5,000 applications in the first two days after the portal opened on Monday. Saraç said the database was particularly aimed to serve academics that migrated to Turkey from conflict zones. Syrian academics dominate the list of applications. "We have nearly 1,200 applications from Syrian nationals, another 150 from Iraqis and 31 applications from Egyptians. We also received applications from other countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans," Saraç said. "It is an encouraging sign for us to continue with the project," he added.
Professor Saraç said they did not simply want to invite academics unable to do their job in their countries but also make Turkey a hub for higher education. Turkish universities already employ 315 Syrian academics while about 3,500 foreign academics work at Turkish universities. The state of Syrian academics and scientists was spotlighted after the story of Refaai Hamo, a cancer-stricken Syrian scientist who was granted asylum by the United States in December, sparked a debate on Turkey's ability to prevent a brain drain of Syrians. Hamo said he did not have any employment opportunities as an academic or university graduate in Turkey, and claimed many well-educated Syrians were unable to find jobs in their own fields.