Istanbul university academics decry regulation hindering French teachers

Academics of Istanbul's Galatasaray University, the country’s only Francophone higher learning institute, gathered on campus on Tuesday to condemn a new regulation that tightens requirements for French staff, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Staff at the university read a joint statement calling for the reversal of the new Turkish language sufficiency regulation for French teachers, the newspaper said.

The new regulation calling for an advanced level of Turkish was introduced bythe Higher Education Council (YÖK) and has led to the denial of work permits of over a dozen French instructors at the university. The teachers are also concerned with being expelled from the country.

The legislation, while restricting the pool of employable French educators, the statement aid, denies students the multicultural and bilingual education the school - regarded as the flagship of Franco-Turkish cooperation -  has long taken pride in.

The advanced B2 level of Turkish expected from French teachers is "incredibly advanced’’ and "unnecessary,’’ the statement added, noting that school’s language of education is French.

The current regulation will result in "a decrease in the level of French education,’’ the statement said.

The new YÖK legislation arrives amid an ongoing diplomatic row between Ankara and Paris over a spate of issues, including Turkey’s military operations and Ankara’s territorial claims to offshore gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean.