Turkey refuses to recognise KU Leuven diplomas

Summary

Turkish officials are refusing to recognise diplomas awarded by KU Leuven over claims that the university has links to the political movement of opposition leader Fethullah Gülen

Blacklisted institutions

The Turkish government is refusing to recognise diplomas obtained at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), citing claims that the university supports the movement of the Turkish opposition leader Fethullah Gülen. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the exiled opposition leader was behind last year’s failed coup attempt.

The Turkish government’s accusations are believed to revolve around the Fethullah Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies, which KU Leuven established in 2010. The university also collaborates with the Intercultureel Dialoog Platform, an association of which Gülen is honorary chairman, as part of the chair’s research activities.

“But it’s a politically neutral chair,” says rector Rik Torfs, who visited the Turkish embassy at the end of January to discuss the issue. “The Turkish ambassador has assured us that our diplomas will be recognised,” Torfs said.

According to reports from Het Laatste Nieuws, a Turkish student who obtained a KU Leuven degree applied for her diploma to be recognised by local Turkish authorities at the end of last year. Such official diploma recognition is mandatory to be eligible to apply for certain jobs. The student was informed that officials couldn’t recognise the diploma issued by KU Leuven because the university, an official letter said, is “linked to the terrorist Gülen movement.”

Turkish state media have also published reports about a so-called “blacklist” of universities around the world that are being shunned by local authorities. Twenty-nine universities in 27 countries are rumoured to be on the list, with KU Leuven the only Belgian institution.

Photo, from left: Gülen Chairholder Emmanuel Gerard, Intercultural Dialogue Platform director Ramazan Guveli and rector Rik Torfs during a 2016 meeting
© KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies

University of Leuven

Established almost six centuries ago, the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) is one of the oldest universities in the Low Countries. International rankings consistently place it among the best universities in Europe.
Papal founding - It was founded as a Catholic university by Pope Martin V in 1425.
Bright minds - Over the centuries, it attracted famous scholars like Justus Lipsius, Andreas Vesalius, Desiderius Erasmus and Gerard Mercator.
Micro and nano - KU Leuven is home to the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec), a world-class research centre in micro- and nanoelectronics.
11 544

staff members in 2013

40 069

students in 2014-2015 academic year

365

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