A distinctive past of more than 500 years in education and training: Galatasaray University.
Galatasaray University, was first established in 1481 by Sultan Beyazit II as an “Enderun School” (Imperial School) and was called the “Galata Sarayı” (‘Galata Palace’). The institution started in the same premises of the present Galatasaray High School with the mission of training civil servants for various ranks in the state administration. In those days, the best students of secondary schools were sent to the Enderun School. The word ‘Palace’, in the name ‘Galata Palace’, referred indeed to the state, identified with the imperial palace.
Galatasaray is the only educational institution in Turkey maintaining its reputation, traditional structure and mission to this day.
The school building was reconstructed in 1838 and converted into “Tıbbiye-i Adliye-i Sahane” (The Faculty of Medicine). The first Turkish midwives and other health service personnel were educated in this faculty. This was a step forward to integrate Western science in the field of education.
In 1868, the school was opened under the name of “Galatasaray Mektebi Sultanisi” (Galatasaray High School), the third version of present-day Galatasaray, by order of Sultan Abdulaziz, the first Ottoman emperor who visited Europe and was highly influenced by the educational institutions in France, in particular. Keçecizade Fuat Paşa, a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, who was serving in the capacity of foreign minister at that time and later became a grand vizier in the administration, and Ali Paşa were among those who made great efforts to establish the school designed on the French model. This historical francophone education institution was a boarding school where freedom of conscience always prevailed.
In 1874, three graduate schools were instituted by decree of Sultan Abdulaziz and were combined under the name of “Mekteb-i Aliye-i Sultaniye”, covering Galatasaray Faculty of Law, Galatasaray Faculty of Engineering and Galatasaray Faculty of Literature. At that stage, the administrative structure and courses of these schools were designed to be compatible with the Sorbonne University. Especially the Faculty of Law was in conformity with the level and quality of its European counterparts and as such, contributed to the development of today’s law school.
Two sons of Sultan Abdulhamit II along with many of other sultans’ sons studied in Galatasaray Mekteb-i Aliye-i Sultanisi. Especially with Sultan Abdulhamit II’s support, the school made significant progress and within its body, some seminars were also organized to improve the general culture and training of high-ranking officials.
Having served as a state institution since its foundation, Galatasaray received the name of “Galatasaray High School” as of 1924 within the framework of the new Turkish Republic founded by Atatürk, and has been a state high school since then.
The “Galatasaray University” Project
In order to realize the “idea of establishing a university” on which many Galatasaray High School graduates set their hearts, a commission was founded by the alumni and concrete steps were taken in line with this objective.
Illustrious graduates like Prof. Yıldızhan Yayla, Prof. Barlas Tolan, Prof. Erdoğan Teziç, Prof. Tahsin Yücel, Prof. Niyazi Öktem, Prof. Ethem Tolga, Prof. Haluk Erkut and Levent Dilmaç were the members of the “University Commission” presided by Ambassador Coskun Kırca. As a result of the commission’s intensive work, with Ambassador Coşkun Kırca and Prof. Barlas Tolan’s meticulous efforts in particular, a comprehensive project and a program were set in a short time. The University Charter was signed by Turkish and French committees on 6th December, 1991. Before the charter was signed, Turgut Özal, President of the Turkish Republic at the time, had brought up the issue in the negotiations with his French counterpart François Mitterand in the Elysée Palace in June, 1991. President Mitterand, who visited Turkey with this objective, attended together with President Özal the signing ceremony of the Founding Act of Galatasaray University signed by foreign ministers Hikmet Çetin and Roland Dumas, in the presence of both Heads of State, on April 14th, 1992.
The Galatasaray Education and Training Institution
Our institution was established under the name of Galatasaray Education and Training Institution in accordance with the institutional status published in the Official Gazette, dated May 22nd, 1992 issue no.21235. The Galatasaray Education and Training Institution consists of the primary school, high school and different departments of higher education and continues to function within the framework of the decisions taken in accordance with the international agreement of 1992, its institutional status, and the co-representation committee including Chairman Prof. Dr. Yıldızhan Yayla, The Turkish Vice Chairman Prof. Dr. Barlas Tolan, The French Vice Chairman Annie Petit, The Director of The Engineering and Technology School Prof. Dr. Ethem Tolga, The Headmaster of Galatasaray High School Prof. Dr. Erdoğan Teziç, and Associate General Secretary Prof. Dr. Yalçın Çakalır.
The Galatasaray Education and Training Institution was transformed into a university with the Formation and Cadre Act No 3993 published in the Official Gazette (issue no.21952) on June 6th, 1994, and received the name of “Galatasaray University” as a state university in accordance with its legal status.
Despite having received the university status, the institution kept the character of being an integral education and training institution, and Galatasaray High School and Galatasaray Primary School connected to it were also identified as education units affiliated to the Rectorship (art.1). In accordance with the above-mentioned law, faculties were founded in place of graduate schools, and thus pursuant to decisions, dated 1992, taken by the Charter and Equal Representation Committee the following institutional structure was established in place of “State Sciences Graduate School” and “Engineering and Technology Graduate School”.