In an article published in Hurriyet Daily News Monday, the English language daily took up the issue of the upcoming Boğaziçi University nomination process for rector. The school's faculty votes today to voice its opinion on who they believe should lead the school in the future. The results of the vote will be taken up by the Council of Higher Education who then forwards their recommendation to the president.
The article caught my attention as some of the criticisms of the challenger, Professor Dr. Vedat Akgiray, deal with the relationship between academia and the funds necessary to run a successful university. Akgiray's distinguished career as an academic and chairman of the Capital Markets Board make him an ideal candidate for the position. Akgiray also sits on several advisory boards of such universities as Columbia, in New York. Having worked with Akgiray while a researcher at Özyeğin University's Financial Risk Management laboratory, it was clear then that he had ambitions to improve higher education in Turkey in general and at his Alma Mater in particular.
The article quotes students who believe Akgiray's focus on raising money for the university is not sound. What's curious about these remarks, is that successful universities, those that are at the top of higher education globally require massive investments to stay at the top. Universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, for example, have endowments of $32 billion, $17 billion, and $20 billion. Attracting the most talented researchers internationally, investing in the latest technologies, offering fellowships to the best and brightest students, all require investments.
It seems Turkey has only two choices going forward, either follow the model of the top 100 schools globally in which no Turkish school currently ranks and adopt steps to attract investments that will give higher education bodies the tools they need to expand programs, hire world-renowned professors, and invest in the latest technologies, or business as usual. The business as usual model has failed generations of Turkish students and Turkish taxpayers and it may be time for change.
In news that's certain to move financial markets, Theresa May, home secretary of the United Kingdom, will be the country's next prime minister. With Andrea Leadsom, her only opponent for the top job in parliament, dropping out late Monday, May could assume the post as early as Monday night, if not almost certainly sometime this week. May's recent rise in popularity stems from her insistence that "Brexit means Brexit," dismissing calls from other Conservative Party leaders, including current Prime Minister David Cameron and former London Mayor Boris Johnson, both of whom - while on opposite sides of the Brexit vote - actually agreed that staying in the EU would be best for the U.K.
May has said in the past that the will of the people, exiting the EU, will be implemented by any government she heads and that it will be "a success." How the U.K. actually executes Brexit will be interesting to see, however markets continue to doubt it will be good for the U.K.'s economy.
Despite multi-billion dollar losses in the value of the pound and delays in investments by EU companies, news of May's nomination for the Tory leadership calmed jittery markets, with both the pound sterling and FTSE rallying late in the day. The Bank of England meets later in the week to decide what if any monetary policy steps will be taken to shock back to life an economy reeling from the surprise Brexit vote outcome. Markets have already priced in a 25 basis point cut, however, the rate cut announcement will most probably be coupled with talk of a bond buying program or at the very least indications of another subsequent cut in the policy rate, currently at 0.5 percent, to near zero, ironically, in-line with the U.K.'s continental brethren.
Despite May's success, the U.K. will continue to suffer from uncertainty in the coming days as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a fight for his leadership from Angela Eagle, a fellow Labour deputy. Coming off a vote of no-confidence from his party, Corbyn will face Eagle in the coming days to determine who will square-off against May and the Tories in parliament. A quick resolution to that leadership dispute will be in the best interest of U.K. and EU markets in general, including Turkey.