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Sabancı Üniversitesi
Motto Creating and developing together
Established 1996
Type Private
President Nihat Berker
Staff 276
Undergraduates 2879
Postgraduates 616
Location Istanbul, Turkey
Campus Suburban
Athletics 1 sports teams

Sabancı University (SU) is a private research institution located in Istanbul, Turkey. Founded in 1996, it is the only college in Turkey that offers a liberal arts undergraduate curriculum. SU is a small and highly focused university with 2789 undergraduates and 616 graduates, maintaining a strong emphasis on social and natural sciences. SU has been both applauded and criticized for its approach on undergraduate education, for adopting the statement of academic freedom, and for hosting controversial faculty members.



Turkish higher education reached a turning point when private foundations obtained the right to establish and develop universities. With this decision, universities began to engage in the processes of achieving this goal through both collaboration to improve post-secondary school education and constructive competition in line with the same goals. With the decision of Administrative Council in July 1994, the Sabancı Group decided to establish a university and assigned this task to Hacı Ömer Foundation (VAKSA). However, the intention was to set up a university that would represent a model in higher education in the world, that is, to create a "world university."

The foundation of Sabancı University became legal on June 5, 1996 once the Law 4142 passed through Parliament. On July 31, 1997 the establishment of the campus and creation of the Board of Trustees and the President were announced to the public. Around the same time, the architectural design of the university began. In order to have a better understanding of the user needs, a group of academicians and administrators started work with experts from Cannon, the architectural firm responsible for the project. The ground breaking of the campus construction took place at the end of July 1997 together with the announcement of the Board of Trustees and the President.

The Search Conference, organized in Istanbul on August 18-20, 1995 was an important milestone in the founding of the university. The theme of the conference was "What is the ideal university of the 21st Century? What should be its key philosophical premises of education?" Topics were discussed in free association, with no restrictions superimposed. The aim was to create a definition of the "ideal university" free of prejudices, without a set menu of ready made standards or educational practices which do not reflect the demands of the modern world. Nor were the conference participants eager to construct imitative models of the research, development, and administrative systems of other successful world universities.

A view from the stairs of the main dining hall

More than fifty scholars, researchers, intellectuals, students, and businessmen from twenty two countries participated in the conference. At the end of the conference, based on the knowledge and experience of the participants, the key philosophy was set: "creating and developing together." During the process of searching for excellence, neither international nor national universities were taken as models. The different features of a number of universities overseas and in Turkey were examined, discussed, and studied in order to create finally a synthesis, a world university.

After the search conference, preparations for the university intensified. A response to the question "How would Sabancı University's philosophy be reflected in the implementation of its faculties and programs?" was posed to a core committee of 30 members composed of businessmen and academicians. In the second stage of the design period, thirteen committees from various fields working on programs and courses within an interdisciplinary framework were formed. "Faculty Design Committees", "Course Study Committees" and "Course Design Committees" are a few examples..

To offer a direction to these committees, a study entitled "Student Expectation Survey" was conducted in April 1996 to find out what type of university was desired by the students and their families, as well as the instructor at the center for university exam preparation. A second research project serving the same goal was carried out three years later, when the university opened. As a result of this, the tendencies of the target audience were updated and confirmed. The academic program design activities continued until mid 1999s.

Another major conference commemorating Prof. Dr. Fred Emery, who had created the Search Conference, was organized to provide a perspective during the design period. The goal of this conference, which more than 40 scholars from 14 countries attended, was to discuss the educational problems in the context of globalization and developments in the field of education. This conference enabled a chance to share the ideas on the design of the university with the participants and get their feedback. All the activities were published in Educational Futures (Sabancı University Publications, August 2000).

To design and plan the stages of university administration, assistance from worldwide known professional institutions in higher education was requested in July 1997. After close examination of all offers, in October 1997, the University Administration Project started with the consultancy firm of Deloitte & Touche. At the first stage, the vision, the mission and the design of the university were completed, and the foundation of administrative infrastructure and selection of technology systems were materialized. The second stage, which began in September 1998, consisted of putting the design into practice. Following the design of the academic programs, course design and syllabi, and administration system, Sabancı University moved to the campus in September 1999 to start its first academic year with an opening ceremony on October 20, 1999.


The University and its structure will be participative, self managing, financially self-sustaining and flexible at all levels and functions (research, education and administration). Within these guidelines, the University will be appropriately responsible and responsive to all stakeholders, including students, their families, faculty, staff, administrators and society-at-large.

Research, education and training will be based on learning to learn, interdisciplinary study, teamwork, fundamentals, creativity and ideal seeking. The university, through its curriculum and activities, will focus on identifying and formulating all relevant problems (challenges) as well as responding to current and future socio-technical needs.

The University will direct its research efforts primarily towards applied and strategic research with the objectives of advancing knowledge, supporting teaching and contributing to the progress of the community.

The University will cultivate its existing local and regional comparative advantages to generate, articulate, uncover and develop leading-edge knowledge in order to create competitive competencies within an international and global context. The University will take active initiative to form and to select international and global educational and research networks.


Statement of Academic Freedom

Sabancı University started working on a position statement on Academic Freedom in May 2002. During the initial stage of preparation of the position statement, over 30 web sites of various universities and university associations were visited, and the varying approaches of these institutions were compiled. These texts were subjected to a meticulous screening process; as a result of which a 32-page file was composed and presented to the Deans. Each Dean prepared his/her own Academic Freedom text. A committee of one academician from each faculty then worked on these texts, and the attached policy statement took shape. This text was presented to and approved by the Board of Trustees on December 23, 2002.

The University is, by tradition and definition, an autonomous center of learning and research devoted to examining, producing, disseminating and transmitting knowledge for the public good. The University's obligation to society and to the world community is to ensure scientific integrity and scholarly quality of education. To fulfill this obligation, its research and teaching must be "morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power," as was expressly set forth in the "Magna Charta Universitatum" signed by the Rectors of 29 European Universities in Bologna in 1988.

With these universal principles in mind, the Board of Trustees, faculty and administration of Sabancı University jointly take responsibility for assuring fullest protection of freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Sabancı University's commitment to academic freedom finds expression as follows:

  • All members of the University community involved in the practice of dissemination of knowledge are entitled to freedom in the conduct of their teaching in the classroom, of their research on or off campus, and in the publication, discussion and interpretation of research results.
  • The faculty and administration of Sabancı University are responsible for protecting the right of each member of Sabancı University to artistic expression or to freely expressing his or her personal scholarly opinion.
  • The University does not attempt to influence or control the personal opinion or public expression of that opinion of any member of the University community.
  • The University respects the expression of opinion and choice of association of members of the University community in their private, civic capacity.

The right to academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in:

  • Commitment to ethical obligations and responsibilities to the University community and to one's profession.
  • Commitment to excellence, innovation, and to advancing the frontiers of knowledge in teaching and research at an individual level and in a collaborative spirit.
  • Making a clear distinction between one's responsibility to the University and one's rights as an individual, and making sure that the expression of views does not implicate or commit the University in any way.


Undergraduate and graduate programs at Sabancı University differ in their design and approach from those programs of other universities. The principles that form the foundation of Sabancı University's academic programs and institutional structure are based on an interdisciplinary approach with the absence of traditional departments. Hence, this organizational model allows different faculties to interact and collaborate in contrast to the traditional structures composed of discrete institutional units.

The University aspires to develop students who are competent and confident individuals, infused with a strong sense of responsibility for social change and through participatory teamwork, contribute to the development of science and technology created for the benefit of the community. Sabancı University has four faculties, listed below:


The interdisciplinary design of the academic programs offered by the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences (FENS) and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) prepares students for the diverse challenges of modernity and technology. All students experience a two-tier common program that exposes them to a broad variety of disciplines and approaches. The University Courses in the first tier assist students in acquiring interdisciplinary thinking skills and a holistic knowledge base as well as discipline-specific content. Second tier Faculty Courses familiarize students with the undergraduate programs to assist them in their choice of field at the end of the second year. Students declare majors in their field of interest and choice after the experience of a two-year-based curriculum. The students, placed into the Faculties according to their University Entrance Exam results, have the opportunity to formally declare their majors after the two-year common program. Delayed major declaration enables more informed and mature career decisions. Prior to the core curriculum, students not yet at proficiency level enroll in the one-year School of Languages (SL) since English is the medium of instruction at Sabancı University.

Inside the Information Center

Sabancı University freshmen are enrolled in a core curriculum that consists of Elementary Calculus, Social and Political Science, Modern Turkish History, Natural Sciences, English and Turkish. In their sophomore year, students select a field of concentration without declaring a major, and are enrolled in courses that they want to pursue their undergraduate education in. Students declare major at the end of their second year, and register in their undergraduate faculties from which they receive their diplomas after completing required coursework. In undergraduate level Sabancı University offers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.) degrees from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences correspondingly. Undergraduate majors are as follows.

Inside the Information Center

Sabanci University also offers Minor Honors Programs to provide knowledge and information in areas other than those of the student's registered diploma program. Successful undergraduate students who satisfy the specific terms and conditions, are candidates for the minor honors programs. The Minor Honors Programs that are currently being offered are;

  • Minor Honors Program in Mathematics
  • Minor Honors Program in Physics
  • Minor Honors Program in Chemistry
The Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences on the right and the Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences on the left


Graduate study at Sabancı University places major emphasis on the advancement of knowledge through research. Academic efforts based on this vision support the development of next generation of scholars and provide the ability to transform the results of scientific activity into public benefit. Sabanci University offers Master of Arts (M.A.) from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Master of Sciences (M.Sc.) from the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Master of Business Administration from the Faculty of Management, and Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from all three faculties. The fields of concentrations for graduate studies are as follows.

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
    • Conflict Analysis and Resolution (M.A.)
    • Cultural Studies (M.A.)
    • Economics (M.A., Ph.D.)
    • European Studies (M.A.)
    • History (M.A., Ph.D.)
    • Political Science (M.A., Ph.D.)
    • Visual Arts and Communications Design (M.A.)
The Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences
    • Biological Sciences and Bioengineering (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
    • Electronics Engineering and Computer Science (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
    • Industrial Engineering (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
    • Information Technology (M.Sc.)
    • Materials Science and Engineering (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
    • Mathematics (M.Sc., Ph.D.)
  • Faculty of Management
    • Management (M.B.A., Ph.D.)
    • Executive Management (M.B.A.)
    • Leaders for Industry (M.Sc.)
    • Information Technologies in Management (M.Sc.)


University Center

The main campus is located 15km to the east of Istanbul, near the village of Orhanlı in Tuzla. Designed by the Cannon Group the main campus contains Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Faculty of Management, School of Languages and the Information Center. The construction for the campus began in late 1998, and finished in 1999.

The 1,353,000 m² (330 acres) campus basically consists of 3 parts, the faculties, the dormitories and the facilities. The faculties are placed in the middle of the campus in an inverse U-shape, with FMAN and SL to the left, the University center and the main dining hall at the top, and FENS & FASS to the right. To the north of the faculties, are the residential houses, consisting of undergraduate & graduate dormitories (housing 2072 students) along with faculty residences and the house of the president. To the south of the faculties are the facilities. Scattered around the lake are the Performance Center or SGM, an indoor basketball field, a gym, tennis and squash fields, and a grass soccer field. The running track periphering the lake is perhaps the most beautiful part of the campus, especially at night, along with ducks bathing in the lake.

Another aspect of the campus that the students are very fond of, is the IT infrastructure. Every student is provided with a laptop for two years, and at the end of the second year, the laptop is renewed. Even every spot on campus is a Wireless LAN hotzone, there are ethernet sockets practically everywhere, in dormitory kitchens, TV rooms, even in some bathrooms. The campus IT network, also known as SU-Net, won various awards in the year 2000, such as the "Data Communication Project of the Year".

Although the campus might shock first-time comers with its amazing architecture, and is known as the "farm of knowledge", the students share a common dislike of various elements. The campus has been built on the site where Hannibal had committed suicide 23 centuries ago. The dismal campus is surrounded by various industrial sites, which created a problem of bad odore, but the problem is 99% solved with the efforts of the CIP office. Despite the fame of the Turkish cuisine, the campus offers a minimal variety of food, and the prices are criticized to be expensive.

Undergraduate dormitories seen at night.

Sabancı Performing Arts Center

Sabancı University campus also contains the Sabancı Performing Arts Center (SGM), which is a thousand seat, concert and performing arts venue. Finished in 2004, SGM since hosted both nationally and internationally famed orchestras, bands and other performances.

Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM) is part of Sabancı University, and therefore also functions as an educational institution. In this respect, educational programmes at various levels are held in the museum, and at weekends musical events take place here. Museum website gives online coverage of both permanent and temporary exhibitions and other museum events.

The historical Horse Mansion and the new gallery annex equipped with the latest technology are now a museum of international standards with an area of 3,500 m2 appropriate for holding exhibitions of every kind. The three ground floor rooms of the Horse Mansion have been preserved as they were when the Sabancı family lived here, with the original furnishings and 18th-19th century works of art.

The lake with a view of the residence halls at the background

Hacı Ömer Sabancı began creating the collection of decorative works of art consisting of figurines, metalwork, porcelain, objets d'art and furniture in the Sabancı Collection in 1940, and this has continually expanded since 1970 thanks to Sakıp Sabancı's dedication and love of art. The collection includes 18th and 19th century Chinese Famille Noire and Famille Verte porcelain, polychrome vases and decorated plates. An impressive collection of 19th century French porcelain, including large numbers of Sèvres vases, and German porcelain produced in Berlin and Vienna are among the most valuable items in the collection.

The Sakıp Sabancı Museum recently hosted a Picasso exhibition, bringing together works from the Picasso Museums in Paris and Barcelona, Lille Modern Art Museum, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte (FABA), and the family collections, selected by Picasso's grandson Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. In addition, the exhibition featured photographs of the artist taken by famous photographers.

Student body

Sabancı University has 3495 students, of whom 2879 are undergraduates and 616 are graduates. Females make up 45% of the student body. Sabancı University hosts an extremely selective undergraduate population; about 0,01% of the undergraduates rank in the top 1000 of students who take the annual Turkish University Entrance Examination, and 2,5% rank in the top 3000. Forty percent (97%) of the student body come from private high schools. The university draws from over 5 different cities in Turkey.

Although a private institution, Sabancı University offers considerable financial aid; 31% of all students studying at the university with tuition scholarships, and more than 40% of all students receive some sort of financial aid.


Since 2000, Sabancı University has conferred a total of 3207 graduate and undergraduate degrees. Sabancı alumni continue graduate education and receive fellowships for doctoral study and research at institutions including UC Berkeley, Brown University, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Cambridge, Case Western Reserve University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Freiburg, Harvard University, University of Heidelberg, Kellogg School of Management, London School of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford, Princeton University, Yale University, RWTH Aachen, University of Western Ontario[1]

Notable faculty

See also

References and notes

External links

Coordinates: 40°53′29.15″N 29°22′47.57″E / 40.8914306°N 29.3798806°E / 40.8914306; 29.3798806


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