Bilkent University (In Turkish: Bilkent Üniversitesi), the first private university of Turkey, was founded in Ankara on October 20, 1984 by İhsan Doğramacı through the resolution of the foundations which had earlier been established by him. The establishment of this private university was later approved by an act of Parliament, which opened the way to the foundation of other private universities. The aim was to create a center of excellence in higher education and research. The name Bilkent exemplifies the founder's aim, since it is an acronym of bilim kenti, Turkish for city of science and knowledge. Today, Bilkent University is the highest ranked institution of Turkey, and also is an eminent university worldwide.
İhsan Doğramacı, a distinguished professor in medicine, had previously contributed to the establishment of numerous public institutions of higher education and served as rector of Ankara University
, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Middle East Technical University
and founder and first rector of Hacettepe University
Preparations for Bilkent University had begun as early as 1967, with the purchase of a large tract of land to the west of Ankara. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the above mentioned foundations undertook construction, on the future site of Bilkent, of the buildings which now house administrative offices, the Faculty of Engineering, and the library. Construction of residences for academic staff, cafeterias, student dormitories, the Student Union building and various academic buildings followed in rapid succession.
In October 1986 Bilkent University admitted its first students. That year there were 386 undergraduate and graduate students. Currently there are over 10,000 students in nine faculties, two four-year professional schools, two two-year vocational schools and the School of English Language plus six graduate schools (called institutes). Among them are foreign students from 72 countries. With funds from the endowments provided by the founder, the university each year awards full scholarships to over 2,500 students of high academic achievement.
From the outset, the design of the university structure provided for student union representatives to be members of the administrative committees of various schools, as well as of the University Senate. Beginning in the second year of instruction, the practice of student evaluation of courses and instructors, at the time not a common practice in Turkey, was instituted.
To promote the enrichment of teaching and research programs, Bilkent University entered into collaborative projects and exchange programs with many universities abroad. Bilkent has special student exchange agreements with the University of California system, Purdue, Johns Hopkins, University of Maine, University of Texas at Austin, University of Missouri, Bowling Green State University, Iowa State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Carthage College, Franklin and Marshall College in the U.S.; University of Laval and McGill University in Canada; and Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Bilkent is a member of NIBES (Network of International Business and Economic Schools) and exchange programs are established with Pforzheim University in Germany and the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Clarmont and the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Lille of France. Also, Bilkent University is the most active Erasmus partner of all Turkish universities, with hundreds of exchange students coming in and out every year and semester.
The university also has a communications office at 600 Madison Avenue in New York City, equipped with interactive video conferencing capabilities. A number of courses are delivered by well-known professors of highly acknowledged universities in New York, through this office via satellite connection, to the students of Bilkent.
To meet the expanding needs of the university, construction has continued throughout the years since the admission of the first students. New buildings and facilities include two gymnasiums; the Faculties of Humanities and Letters, Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences, Art, Design and Architecture, Science, the Computer Center, and Music and Performing Arts; a Concert Hall for the Bilkent Academic Symphony Orchestra; a secondary school, a preschool and nursery; new dining facilities; two health centers and a pharmacy; and the East Campus which has additional classroom space, catering facilities, and student and faculty housing.
The faculty comprises an academic staff from 43 different countries. Most of them were working in prominent universities in North America and Europe when they received offers from Bilkent University. According to ISI Citation Indexes, Bilkent continues to be first in Turkey in number of published papers per faculty member and ranks high internationally.
Faculties, Departments and Schools
The bachelor's degree is awarded to students who successfully complete an eight-semester course of study (approximately 120 credit units, although the weight varies in different departments).
Students must fulfill all the degree requirements determined by their department; at graduation their cumulative grade point average must be 2.00 or higher on a scale of 4.00 (stands for circa 65% in Bilkent's grading scale).
The undergraduate programs are organized in departments within nine faculties, two schools and two vocational schools offering two-year programs. These faculties and schools are as follows:
- Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture: Communication and Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design
- Bilkent Faculty of Business Administration: Management
- Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences: Economics, International Relations, Global and International Affairs, Political Science, Psychology
- Faculty of Education: Computer and Instructional Technology Teacher Education, English Teacher Education
- Faculty of Engineering: Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering
- Faculty of Humanities and Letters: American Culture and Literature, Archaeology and History of Art, English Language and Literature, Philosophy
- Faculty of Law: Law
- Faculty of Music and Performing Arts: Music, Performing Arts
- Faculty of Science: Chemistry, Mathematics, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Physics
- School of Applied Languages: Account Information Systems, Banking and Finance, Translation and Interpretation
- School of Applied Technology and Management: Business Information Systems, Computer Technology Information Systems
- Vocational School of Computer Technology and Office Management: Accounting ,Bureau Management and Secretarial Training, Commerce and Administration, Computer Technology and Programming
- Vocational School of Tourism and Hotel Services: Tourism and Hotel Management
In addition, the School of English Language offers a vocational degree in English and Translation Studies for students registered in this two-year program. Study at the vocational schools leads to an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science vocational degree.
Students who have obtained either a B.A. or B.S., or an M.A. or M.S. or M.B.A., or an equivalent degree from an accredited university are eligible to commence studies in the master or doctoral programs.
The graduate programs include:
- Physics (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Molecular Biology and Genetics (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Mathematics (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Chemistry (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Computer Engineering (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Industrial Engineering (M.S., Ph.D.)
- Business Administration (M.B.A., M.S., Ph.D.)
- Economics (M.A., Ph.D.)
- (Dual Masters in Applied Economics, Finance and Operations Research - joint with Tilburg University)
- International Relations (M.A., Ph.D.)
- (Master of International Affairs and Public Policy)
- Political Science (Ph.D.)
- Archaeology and History of Art (M.A.)
- History (M.A., Ph.D.)
- Turkish Literature (M.A., Ph.D.)
- Management in Education (M.A.)
- Teacher Education (M.A.)
- Teaching English as a Foreign Language (M.A.)
- Art, Design and Architecture (Ph.D.)
- Painting and Printmaking (M.F.A)
- Graphic Design (M.F.A.)
- Interior Architecture and Environmental Design (M.F.A.)
- Media and Visual Studies (M.F.A.)
- Music (M.M, D.M.A./Proficiency in Art)
Further information on graduate programs of the University can be acquired from annually published Graduate Catalog. The catalog is also available online.
The Career Development and Placement Center, another service established at the incentive of Bilkent's founder early in the University's development, helps final-year students to acquire the skills necessary to apply successfully for a job. The Center arranges interviews between representatives of major corporations and students seeking employment.
Each year, more than 1,600,000 high-school graduates take the national examination to enter the 53 state and 23 private universities in Turkey.
The University has more than 10,000 students and a teaching staff of 1000. Bilkent attracts students of the highest caliber nationally and from abroad. Every year, the largest proportion of top scorers in the Turkish National University Entrance Examination choose to study at Bilkent. International students come from more than 70 different countries.
Proficiency in English language for non-native speakers is also a must in admission, since all departments (except for the Turkish Language and Literature department) use English as the main language of education by 100% weight. Minimum score of 213 from TOEFL, or success in the university's own English proficiency exam is obligatory to register the Associate, Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate level courses.
The faculty is composed of a motivated and dynamic academic staff from over 40 different countries. In terms of publications per faculty, Bilkent ranks first in Turkey, and ranks high internationally. Bilkent University hires academic and administrative staff and admits students regardless of gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to staff and students at the university.
A high proportion of Bilkent graduate students receive some form of financial support from the University. Graduate students who have completed their studies at Bilkent go on to find jobs in Turkey and around the world, at prominent universities, research institutes and international organizations.
The University library has a rich collection of books with annual acquisitions valued at over 3 million U.S. dollars. Today, Bilkent University Library is the largest university library of Turkey, and it is the only university library to take place at the Top 10 libraries ranking of Turkey . In addition to books, the collection includes periodical subscriptions, microforms, CD-ROMS, access to numerous online databases and electronic journals, DVD videos and audio/video cassettes. Music scores and sound recordings are available in the music rooms. Various open private collections and an exhibition hall also take place in the library. Bilkent University Library is generously opening its doors to the students and faculty of the other universities. The computer automation system (BLISS) made exclusively for the use of Bilkent University Library is now being used by many other Turkish university libraries, again by the generous permission of Bilkent University.
The Bilkent Computer Center (BCC) provides a variety of computing resources and services to meet the administrative, educational and research computing requirements in the university community. These services include providing computational equipment, their hardware and software maintenance, maintenance of software resources such as language compilers, utilities and application programs.
Additionally, BCC develops in-house application software for the university itself including academic information systems, student information systems, library information system and others.
Accommodation is available on campus for many graduate students either in single occupancy dormitories or in shared apartments. All housing facilities are furnished and equipped with basic necessities such as major appliances, kitchenware and bedding.
Free emergency health services are provided for all students. There are two health centers on the campuses with physicians and nurses available 24 hours a day, including weekends. In addition to the full-time staff, specialists such as a dentist, optician, gynecologist and psychologist are available for consultation. Subscription to group health insurance plans are available for graduate students at reasonable rates.
Sports and Recreation
The sports programs, activities and facilities of the university are expanding constantly to keep pace with the growing needs of the large student body. The facilities include three gymnasiums, three outdoor tennis courts, one indoor tennis court, several outdoor volleyball and basketball courts, two mini-football fields, several aerobic/step studios, fitness/conditioning room, several multi-purpose rooms, a regulation size grass football field on Main Campus and a 60m x 40m multi-purpose grass football field on East Campus. In addition, a new seven thousand square meter multi-purpose sports complex (with a large state of the art fitness center, basketball, volleyball and team handball courts, three squash courts, aerobic/step and program studios and an indoor running-walking track) on Main Campus was added to the current facilities in the Fall of 2001.
Students can participate in many sports courses and be trained by university staff, mostly for free. The university presents many individuals and teams in different sports in varsity competitions.
To provide the environment and programs through which the Bilkent University community can participate in and attain a healthy lifestyle. By participating in quality health, physical education, sports and fitness programs the students enrich their campus lives and develop to their fullest individual capacity.
Societies and Leisure Activities
Bilkent University is a leader in music and performing arts in Turkey
. Bilkent Symphony Orchestra
(BSO) is Turkey’s first and only academic symphony orchestra. It performs regularly at the University Concert Hall and gives concerts in various other cities and countries. Young actors studying at the Performing Arts Department have regularly scheduled performances. The University also sponsors frequent lectures, art exhibitions, and literary evenings throughout the academic year.
The board, and the departmental members of the Bilkent Student Union are annually chosen among the students by the entire registered students of that academic year. Student Union is the main sponsor and the organizer of the Mayfest, the traditional Bilkent University summer festival. Mayfest is held at the first week of May each year and is famous with the huge number of activities goes on all day long, as well as the open-air concerts where the most popular Turkish pop and rock bands and singers take stage every night throughout the festival.
The student clubs organize regular activities every day in the campus, mostly open to everyone. All students are allowed to join, or participate in the events and activities of any club they wish to.
Student clubs include:
- Gürer Aykal - Faculty of Music, conductor
- Talat Sait Halman - Dean of the School of Humanities and Letters, first Minister of Culture of Turkey
- Halil İnalcık - Faculty of History
- Suna Kan - Faculty of Music, violinist
- Gülsin Onay - Faculty of Music, pianist
- Ergun Özbudun - Faculty of Law, leader of the academic council which is building a new Turkish constitution.
- Fazıl Say - Faculty of Music, pianist
- Sami Selçuk - Faculty of Law, former Head Judge of the Supreme Court of Turkey
- Stanford J. Shaw (deceased in 2006)- Faculty of History
- Alexander Shumovsky (deceased in 2007)- Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
- Norman Stone - Faculty of International Relations, and History
- Hikmet Sami Türk - Faculty of Law, former Minister of Justice of Turkey
- Abdullah Atalar - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Haldun M. Ozaktas - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Levent Onural - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Erdal Arikan- Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Hilmi Volkan Demir - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Ali Doğramacı - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Industrial Engineering
- Varol Akman - Faculty of Engineering, Department of Computer Engineering
- Ekmel Ozbay - Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
- Fadik Sevin Atasoy - Actress
- Orkut Büyükkökten - a Turkish employee of Google who developed the social networking service called Orkut
- Demir Demirkan - Rock star
- Evren Geniş - Composer
- Şahan Gökbakar - Comedian
- Tamer Karadağlı - Actor
- Emre Karayel - Actor
- Binnur Kaya - Actress
- Başak Köklükaya - Actress
- Nasuh Mahruki - Mountaineer, first Turk to climb Mt. Everest and the founder of Turkish SAR team, AKUT
- Basak Senova - Art Curator, founding member of NOMAD, an association working on digital art.
- Kaan Tangöze - Rock star, the frontman of Duman
Organizations and Institutions Associated with the University
- Bilkent University Center for European Union Affairs
- Ahmed Adnan Saygun Center for Music Research and Education
- Bilkent Center for Advanced Studies (BICAS)
- Center for Environmental Sciences
- Center for International Economics
- Center for Russian Studies
- Center for Studies in Society and Politics
- Center for Turkish Language and Speech Processing
- Center for Turkish Politics and History
- Center for Research in Transitional Societies (CRTS)
- Center for Turkish Literature
- Communications and Spectrum Management Research Center (ISYAM)
- Genetics and Biotechnology Research and Development Center (BILGEN)
- Halil Inalcik Center of Ottoman Studies
- Nanotechnology Research Center (NANOTAM)
- National Nanotechnology Research Center (UNAM)
- Institute of Economic and Social Sciences
- Institute of Engineering and Science
- Institute of Fine Arts
- Institute of Music and Performing Arts
- Institute of World Systems, Economies and Strategic Research