Pelin Akdemir / Gazete Duvar
Turkey’s state-run examination board, the Centre for Assessment, Selection, and Placement (ÖSYM), has more than doubled the registration fees for the exams it administers in the past two years.
The center is in charge of a variety of exams from university admissions to medical licensing, taken by over one million people each year.
The university admissions exam is mandatory for all students seeking to receive higher education. The 115 Turkish liras registration fee increased to 295 liras (10 dollars) this year. Students are required to pay 885 liras (29 dollars) if they want to take all three sessions. The fee for the specialty in medicine examination (TUS) has increased to 950 liras (31 dollars) per session in 2024.
The English proficiency exam administered by the ÖSYM costs 490 liras (16 dollars) this year, more than twice last year’s 260-lira fee. Graduate school applicants are required to take the exam.
Students found it increasingly difficult to cover the costs of these mandatory exams. Derviş Erdem, branch chair of Turkey’s Education Workers Union (Eğitim-Sen), commented that exorbitant fee increases by the state institution reflected real inflation rates in Turkey as opposed to the 64,77% annual increase reported by the state-run statistical authority.
The ÖSYM’s revenue has also increased through the years. In 2021, the institution earned 767 million liras ($25 million), followed by 1.5 billion liras ($49 million) in 2022, and 2.7 billion liras ($88 million) in 2023.
Erdem held that students should not be charged for exams they are required to take. He criticized the ÖSYM director for acting “like a businessman” and increasing exam fees by 156 percent.
“Us workers, pensioners, and farmers know that the TÜİK’s inflation figures do not reflect reality,” said the union chair, and added that the examination fees were yet another proof of the real inflation.
One teacher preparing for the Civil Servant Examination (KPSS) complained that the doubled examination fees increased their financial burden. Low salaries in private education institutions combined with the costs of exam preparation made it difficult to sustain their lifestyle.
“I do not understand how the same exam printed on the same booklet can double in price in just a year,” they said. The teacher added that the government should cover these costs instead of young and unemployed prospective teachers.
The ÖSYM has been involved in numerous scandals over the years. Former head Ali Demir has been under arrest on charges including membership of an armed terror organization. An expert’s report found that Demir hired followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen to copy and distribute public personnel exam questions, the entirety of which were leaked between 2010 and 2015.
Most recently, the 2022 civil servant selection exam (KPSS) was readministered after allegations of leaked questions. In response to the scandal, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replaced ÖSYM head Prof. Dr. Halis Aygün with the current chief Prof. Bayram Ali Ersoy.
(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)