Press Room

20 March, 2019



Off-University, an emancipatory education initiative created by and for persecuted academics, launches its Summer Semester online courses this week.


Off-University has partnered up with universities around Germany and the United States to offer accredited online courses open for all, regardless of previous attainments or location. All the courses are taught by academics who have been purged from their institutions, forced to resign, and who are legally and politically persecuted in Turkey.


İclal Ayşe Küçükkırca was dismissed from her university position in 2017 for signing the Academics for Peace petition against the raids by the Turkish military on cities mainly populated by Kurds in 2016. She explains her situation:


“With Off-University I can teach freely, and I am able to sustain myself while continuing to do research. The detachment from university also means detachment from young people. Off-University created the chance of getting connected with young people from different geographies.”

Off-University’s 14-week-long courses cover a range of topics, from Feminist Political Philosophy, Comparative Urban Politics , the Economy of the Global South in the Age of Financialisation, to Contemporary Turkish Literature and Comparative Political History of the Modern Middle East.

The courses are held on the Off-University platform “Coworkingsquares” which offers students, researchers and lecturers a chance to connect via live streams, chats and videos, and to share coursework and learning materials.

Tuba Çekiç, Associate Professor in Urban planning co founded Off-University in 2017 after she moved to Germany following her expulsion from Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul and the confiscation of her passport. She explains what launching the new semester means to her.

“I am very excited that we are launching our fantastic new Summer Semester courses as a way to respond practically to the political persecution of scholars in Turkey and beyond, and to promote critical thinking in an alternative, horizontal online university learning environment.”

As of 4 March 2019, 137 academics in Turkey have received prison sentences from one year and three months, to three years in prison for signing the Academics for Peace petition, for which they were charged with creating “terrorist propaganda”. This is only one facet of the political persecution academics experience in Turkey.


As this anti-democratic repression of critical voices increases, so too does the need for spaces where critical knowledge can be shared freely. The Off-University course program connects students and academics all over the world and addresses itselves to anyone who stands for peace and living together in diversity. To find out more see



08 February, 2019

Imprisoning Scholars Aims at Imprisoning Scholarly Thinking

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" protesting against severe human rights violations during the curfews in Southeastern Turkey— the Kurdish populated region. After the Turkish government accused the peace defenders in academia of ‘being part of terrorist propaganda’, hundreds of scholars have been dismissed from their universities. Meanwhile, with the participation of other scholars, the number of academics for peace who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212 in Turkey alone. 

Since December 5th, 2017, scholars have been prosecuted under charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization”. The Penal Courts continue to hand out sentences against scholars and human rights defenders until today. As Bianet reports: “As of January 24, 2019, 450 academics have stood trial since December 5, 2017. 83 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 3 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; one academic to 2 years and 3 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic has been sentenced to 3 years in prison.” 

Off-University, as an initiative strengthening freedom of speech in academia, supports our colleagues’ on-going fight for freedom and peace in Turkey. The defence of human rights must not be prosecuted. The sentences meted out by the courts are clearly arbitrary, as scholars who have signed the same petition received different penalties. The verdict of three years meeted out to a scholar on January 24th is an example for this as the court did not cite any aggravating circumstances. Moreover, imprisoning scholars has the aim of imprisoning scholarly thinking. Critical thinking at Turkish universities and interventions by scholars in the public sphere of Turkey are systematically prevented. Therefore, these convictions constitute not only a severe political persecution of academics, they also impede sound academic life, knowledge production, and the future development of higher education in Turkey. 

We repeat our solidarity with the persecuted colleagues. 


For more information about the prosecutions of the Academics for Peace initiative: 

For reading more about the curfews of 2015 and 2016 in Southeast Turkey :  


03 October, 2018

Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester Online Courses Start Off!

Off-University is an initiative of scholars who respond to political persecution and attacks on academic freedom by creating a digital infrastructure to continue education and research. It was founded by scholars from Germany and Turkey yet addresses itself to scholars and students from all over the world with a range of online academic events; free of charge and available to everyone interested. In 2018/19 Winter Semester, Off-University presents three online courses starting on October 17, 2018.  


+ rewires dislocated scholars in the academic world in an alternative way for an alternative academia

+ understands itself as a facilitator that reassembles existing networks of collaboration among universities and other educational institutions in favor of a less hierarchical and more inclusive structuring;

+ is committed to a world in which critical research can be conducted anywhere, by anyone, and knowledge is produced and shared freely and free of charge.

Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester provides a space for scholars from Turkey who were dismissed from their university positions due to signing a peace petition calling to end state violence in and against Kurdish cities and towns in January 2016. As some of the Off-University instructors have since not been allowed to leave Turkey, the courses are organized in an online space with the objective of transnational and transcultural communication between participants from all over the world and online-lecturers in Turkey by including online-participants from all around the world. 

Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester Online Courses are organized in collaboration with Potsdam University, the University of Duisburg-Essen and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (chair of Turkish Studies). Online courses are livestreamed with the facilitation of Off-University. 

The three online courses in 2018/2019 Winter Semester at Off-University are held in English and Turkish, and open to online students wherever they are located and the interested public. Students of Potsdam and Duisburg-Essen Universities enrolled in appropriate programs may include these courses in their transcripts. It is sufficient just to get registered in order to participate in the courses which are free of charge. Participants who successfully complete their studies will receive a certificate of achievement which may be recognized by the universities located in countries part of the Bologna Process. The requirements might differ in each course. 

Please follow the link below in order to get further information and download media files