Members turn on educational board .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - Five members of the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, criticized the board's recent decisions in a written statement late Wednesday, claiming it took a pro-government stance and the institution was intertwined with politics.

"As of December 2007, assignments to the YÖK presidency and memberships have made the majority in the YÖK general assembly comprised by those who share the same opinion with the government," the statement signed by Professor Engin Ataç, Professor Mustafa İlhan, Professor Tunçalp Özgen, Professor Fikret Şenses and Bülent Serim read.

"YÖK members and university rectors who have been appointed in the last year are chosen among those who were the ruling party’s parliamentary candidates in the general elections, those whose support for the ruling party is known by the public and academics who supported the freedom of headscarf in universities," it said.

The members complained about the creation of new foundation universities, despite lack of infrastructure and academic staff. The statement also cited Parliament Speaker and Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan’s conversation regarding YÖK President Yusuf Ziya Özcan, which was heard by everyone after a microphone was unwittingly left on. In reply to a bureaucrat who claimed that Özcan’s stance had changed and he made friendly statements, Unakıtan said: "If he dares, he does not." The conversation drew harsh criticism, placing Özcan’s neutrality into question.

Meanwhile, YÖK convened to discuss the university entrance exam yesterday. When asked about other YÖK members’ reactions against the written statement, Professor Şenses said there appeared to be no verbal or written reaction, but some members struck an attitude. President Özcan also confirmed that the written statement did not come up during the morning session of the meeting. The meeting was not over when the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press.