Sıtkı Davut Koçman, the manufacturer and producer of BMC trucks, became a pioneer for education in Turkey and the Muğla Province in particular. The university took his name as their own after he donated over 1 million Turkish lira to Muğla University; its official title is Muğla Sıtkı Koçman Üniversitesi. As a public university, tuition fees are heavily subsidised and 80 million euros per year are donated to the institution by the government on a yearly basis. This funding not only benefits the students, but also the research and outreach programmes that the university run and as a result the local area of Muğla, including Dalyan.
The university is 24 years old and is ranked the 30th best university in Turkey, but 12th on impact and the quality of the publications and research that they do. Forty thousand students from all over Turkey are enrolled at Muğla University and over half are from the Muğla Province. Statistics show that nearly 25% of high school students in Muğla go on to study a foundation course or a bachelors degree. Drop out rates are incredibly low and the university is currently at 95% capacity, making it one of the most popular choices in the country.
Muğla University creates many jobs for the area, employing 1400 academic staff, half of whom have a PHD qualification or higher, and 1000 administrative staff. The institution is currently home to 750 international students from sixty different countries around the world and connections with universities worldwide, including York and Warwick universities in England, which is particularly poignant as they are hugely involved in outreach projects in the global university market and inter-cultural communication, with the aim of opening Turkey to the world.
Departments of the university include faculties in Education, Language Studies, Business, Fine Arts (including music, performing arts and painting), Economics and Administrative Sciences, Theology, Architecture, Engineering, Fisheries, Technology, Medicine and of course Tourism Management. Many of the school's departments have English and Turkish programmes with the Engineering faculty and the School of Medicine being taught entirely in English. There are eighteen departments which give bachelor degrees. Masters and PHD qualifications are also available in most subjects, with most graduates continuing studies at the masters level and about half going on to complete a doctorate programme.In addition to the traditional degrees, the university offers vocational programmes which last for two years and can be transferred to bachelor degree qualifications.
The Ecology Research and Application Centre
The Ecology Research and Application Centre
The research centre at the university plays a major role in the university's success. Not only has it put the institution on the academic map across Europe, but it draws in an extra five million Turkish lira of funding every year. Another 25% is earned through the work of the university within the local area. The Ecology Research and Application Centre houses several high-tech science labs that offer a place for the development of Muğla's agricultural economy and application of the area's resources.
Pine Honey Testing
The Muğla region produces 80% of the world's pine honey and supplies 90% of Turkey. Doctor Pınar Terzioğlu is an expert in the science behind pine honey and runs a laboratory which specialises in the testing of the special honey to ensure that it is safe for sale and consumption.
Laboratory Testing Equipment
Honey farmers from across the region send Pınar samples of their honey for testing. The samples are run through a variety of machines and are put through strenuous scientific experiments to ensure that the batches are free of unhealthy bacteria and disease. The results are then sent back to the farmers and they are hopefully given the go ahead to trade.
Doctor Pınar Terzioğlu
Cosmetics of Muğla
Testing and Extracting Oils
One of the most innovative ongoing projects at the university and one heavily endorsed by DOKTOB president Yücel Okutur, is the use of flora and fauna local and in some cases unique to the Muğla region to make cosmetics. Professor Nazan Demir is the scientist behind the project and she has spent many years investigating which flowers and herbs grow and thrive in the area and experimenting with different techniques to extract oils and other elements of the plants to use in her range of cosmetics. The Cosmetic Products Research Laboratory was established at the university and Professor Demir has began to find out and test what benefits the different plants have for the skin and then to produce these cosmetics in a way that is sellable and desirable.
Flora and Fauna Local to Muğla
There are currently 22 products on sale and most of her range comes in oils and creams. Some are good for dry skin, some for redness, some even for scarring; one oil even promises to cure bruising. All of the plant species collected are endemic to the Muğla Province and include corn lily, gentian, anemone orchid blossoms. Nazan believes that Muğla’s climate and rich collection of flora makes it a special place for plant life that contain qualities that are good for the skin. She also sees scope for some of these plants, particularly herbal raw materials, to be used as a pharmaceutical active ingredients.
Naz Demir Kozmetik
There are 12,500 plants growing in Europe, 11,000 of those grow naturally in Muğla and the market of selling naturally produced beauty products abroad is worth over 1 million US dollars, a trade that Muğla University could easily cash in on. Plants that have been used for essential oils include lily, corn lily, lavender, St John's Wort, daisies, bay rose, thyme, myrtle, eucalyptus, mint and jasmine.
A groundbreaking project is off the ground at Muğla University, the cultivation of truffles. Pomegranates have been the leading force in agriculture in the Muğa region and in Dalyan in particular, but now the future of pomegranates looks gloomy as the area grows far more than can be sold. Each year truck loads of pomegranates are burned to rid the land of them in order to grow a new batch each year. Being the superfood that it is, pomegranates had become a trend across Europe and Russia and even as far as the states, but experts have predicted that things are about to get worse for the delicious fruit and now they are looking for new project for the future of the area's agriculture and they believe that truffles are the way forward.
Professor Doctor Aziz Türkoğlu is Turkey's leading scientists when it comes to truffles. He has researched the best ways to cultivate the underground fungus. Not only is he trying to stimulate mass cultivation of standard types of truffles, such as the white truffle and the summer truffle, Aziz is also creating new types of truffles.
Oak Tree Truffle Forests
With Muğla University, Professor Doctor Türkoğu created a 40 hectare artificial truffle forest using oak trees. Through this project, he is able to research the definition of truffle varieties, how an truffle orchard can be installed and managed, including reporting and certification and the determination of the truffles' chemical content and how effectively the oil can be extracted. The next step is to find out if Muğla's sulphur rich land is beneficial to their growth. Plantations have already been started in Denizli, Muğla, Antalya, Izmir and Isparta and Dalyan could possibly be next.
Tuber Magnatum Truffles
This could really change the face of the agricultural economy in the region as truffles could easily overtake sales of pomegranates. Not only that, but truffles are much more valuable. Professor Doctor Aziz Türkoğlu's new breed of truffle, the Tuber Magnatum, can bring in profits of 3500 Euros per kilo.
Professor Doctor Aziz Türkoğlu and his New Truffles
Health Tourism is one of the main objectives of the university and of the Muğla province. With the south west of Turkey attracting so many expatriates, it is important to have facilities available to those who need it.
The New Muğla University Hospital
2016 marks the opening year of the Muğla University Hospital, a 120,000 square foot building is state of the art and is hugely supported by the Ministry of Health who are providing all of the equipment. The entire creation of the hospital has cost 100 million euros and will be specifically for public use. The university will provide academics and staff from their thriving medical school. The departments of basic sciences, medical sciences and surgical sciences will be well utilised as well as their holistic therapies.
Tri-Generation Power Plant
Tri-generation or combined cooling, heat and power refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or solar heat collector. At present, the university pays bills in excess of 1.5 million euros for heating, air conditioning and electricity. They want to introduce a power plant in Muğla which will produce energy from renewable gas to cut their ongoing costs by as much as 75% in the future. They believe that after the first year of implementation, costs will drop to 1 million euros, and in two years to 500,000 euros.
Tourism and Hospitality Management
The Muğla province is regarded as one of the safest spots in Turkey. The region has a population of 1 million and in the past has welcomed 4 million visitors a year. Of this tourist population, most travel from the UK. If you have read my previous article about Dalyan's School of Tourism, you will know that with the economy of Dalyan and indeed the whole of the Muğla being so dependent on tourism, high school students all over the province are taught the skills of tourism as a vocation from the age of 14 in specialist schools. This is no different in higher education and Muğla University offers a comprehensive degree which trains its young adults in every faculty of tourism.
Students of Tourism
Six thousand students are currently enrolled at the university to study a tourism related subject. The Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management has departments in Hospitality, Travel Management and Food and Beverage Management. There are five programmes teaching Culinary Arts and six other courses including Business Management and Accounting. It just put into perspective how important tourism is, not only to Muğla but to Turkey and its future. Many students from Dalyan's School of Tourism go on to study Tourism and Hospitality Management at Muğla University and return to Dalyan to practice their profession.
Dalyan and Muğla University
In 2015 the Turtle Hospital was given to Muğla University, as was the management of Iztuzu Beach. While this gives students an opportunity and a location to study Marine Biology and the Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead Turtles) which are native to the area, it also brings huge potential, funding and protection to the area.
While this doesn't seem to have dispelled the actions of local group DALÇEV (who want to privatise and build on the beach) when it comes to the argument over who has the rights to manage Iztuzu Beach, it certainly has helped to give power to the people and legal and administrative assistance when it comes to the local's fight to protect Turtle Beach. It is hoped that the relationship between the local authorities and the university will bring a future of peace and a public beach. It will also secure the future of the rehabilitations of any injured turtles at Iztuzu's Turtle Hospital.
The Faculty of Archeology also works closely with Kaunos, with excavation projects and conservation. This has also uncovered salt production sites, both at Kaunos and close to Iztuzu Beach.
The university are also helping out with the cleaning of the Dalyan river and are contributing by beginning to take samples of Dalyan's waters to keep an eye on pollution levels.
The Dalyan River
Of course the projects of Nazan Demir has also brought studies of flora and fauna to Dalyan too and the Faculty of Architecture is partnering with DOKTOB on Dalyan's Street Art project. But it is the university's push towards health tourism which is really going to benefit the area. Not only with the multi million euro, state of the art hospital benefit all residents, expats and tourists, but their other project with DOKTOB to provide assisted living and retirement homes for the elderly and disabled will bring a new strain of tourism to the area.
Rector, Professor Doctor Masur Harmadar and Vice Rector, Professor Doctor Yusef Ziya Erdil
Many thanks to Muğla University Rector, Professor Doctor Masur Harmandar for agreeing to meet with me and being so welcoming on my visit to the institution and particularly to Vice Rector, Professor Doctor Yusef Ziya Erdil for taking time out of his busy schedule to give me a tour and to be interviewed for all of the information that I have shared in this article.
The Dalyan exposé has begun! The project will run until the 23rd of May and will include a lot of exciting articles and videos on our YouTube channel with interesting interviews with business owners and those who work in tourism in Turkey. We'll also be tackling safety issues and what terrorism means for Turkey and the beautiful riverside town of Dalyan.