Professor Irşadı M. Aksun Vice-President for Research and Development

Koç University’s Research Strategy

Koç University’s success in research is reflected in the depth and variety of research produced, the number and prestige of research awards received by faculty members and their research outputs.

This has happened very quickly if one takes into account that Koç University was established only 23 years ago, is still smaller that most other leading research universities in Türkiye in terms of graduate student body and with only 250 professors, receives Türkiye’s highest number of European Union grants.

When asked what is our formula it can be summarised as creating the freest environment possible, hiring the best scholars and promoting interdisciplinary thinking in order to compete and excel in the global research marketplace.

Hiring the best faculty: making sure that all of our faculty member’s attainment meets a standard of excellence. Faculty are appointed and promoted according to criteria based solely on external recommendations from international peers. With no tenure system, scholarly productivity is evaluated every five years. The result is an unusually strong academic workforce in receipt of the most young faculty awards from the Turkish Academy of Sciences, the second highest number of science awards from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye (Tübitak) and success in securing sponsored research grants and contracts. Ninety per cent of the university’s academics have PhDs from the US and EU leading universities, and every faculty opening receives 60 to 70 applications from all around the world.

Attracting the best students: the most important challenge facing a young university in the global marketplace is recruiting PhD students. Our unusually high number of research projects require that we rapidly expand our doctoral programmes. Our strategy has been to double our doctoral intake, with aggressive recruitment from target countries and offering these talented students generous scholarships, campus and other student support services.

Getting out of the way: we aim to create a truly free environment and protect it at all costs, even at the expense of relinquishing control, promoting a culture of delegation of responsibility so that all research units can excel in ways that best suit them.

Research can no longer be carried out behind disciplinary walls: we appoint the best academics across the board so that all schools are excellent and make it easy for them to interact, for example via joint research seminars and seed support for collaborations. Creating a free environment in which faculty can thrive is much more important than defining a strategic niche.  Researchers address major issues in society, technology and science working in teams while also sustaining their independent research.

We invite you to explore research conducted at Koç University and partner, study or work with us in the future.