B. Burgaz, B. Turhan

Hacettepe University (TURKEY)
As a result of technological progress and the development of knowledge-based competitive economies, information has gained in importance. These developments have affected all countries, and inevitably increased the importance and influence of higher education institutions in relation to economic and social structures. As a result of these developments, there is a stronger connection between the business world and universities. Europe, with some of the world’s oldest universities and home to the world’s oldest higher education institutions, has been seen as a leader for almost 900 years; however, through the 20th Century, this picture has changed, as the United States and Japan have assumed the role that Europe once played: as leaders in the fields of economy and education. In response, Europe, aiming to create a borderless, integrated common market, has been taking various precautions and reforms. By 2020 the aim is for Europe to become “the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economic power”. As a result of the close link between education and economy, this aim has also influenced higher education and has led to the creation of two policies: the Bologna Process and the Lisbon Strategy. The common concern of these two policies is to create a system that will grant individuals both the understanding of economic structures and the knowledge to implement reforms that will revitalize the economy. However, in contrast to previous periods, it has become evident that vocational competences will not be enough for success. In order that these competences may be practically applied, and adapted to the culture of particular businesses, it is clear that the competences students gain during their education should be supported by “generic competences”. It is becoming evident that generic competences are taken seriously both within the educational sphere and within the labour market, and are increasingly influential in terms of job recruitment, career development, and occupational shift. Our research assessed the competence levels of Hacettepe University’s first and final grade students through surveys, taking into consideration the “personal and vocational competences” included in the Turkish Higher Education Council Competences Framework. In addition, we measured the views of the students against the effect of various independent variables, such as gender; class; the educational level of the student’s parents; and the faculty in which the student was studying.

This research may be important in two aspects: by identifying the activities and events that have a role in the attainment of competences that could affect the career path of Hacettepe University students; and identifying the factors that work as obstacles to the attainment of these competences. The research findings may be beneficial for both university and graduates by leading to the development of educational programmes, and the facilitation of job finding among graduates.