Students and Graduates in Action: “KYK Debts Should Be Deleted”*

Mert Batur

University students are given scholarships or loans by the Credit Dormitories Institution (KYK) under the Ministry of Youth and Sports. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently stated in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 2020-2021 academic year that 1 million 600 thousand students were given scholarships or loans. However, while the scholarship is a non-refundable support, loans are given on a refundable basis. 

Although there is no clear answer given at The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) to the relevant questions about the issue, as far as we know, there are around 10 million KYK debtors in Turkey. 5 million of them have not started to pay back their debt. Nearly 300 thousand young people who cannot pay their debts have received court orders that attempts will be made to collect the debt. Students who have received KYK loan for 4 years graduate with approximately 20,000-30,000 lira debt.

As such, the demands of KYK debtors were frequently brought up on social media. Since 2017, the positive statements of the authorities have caused expectations, but so far no solutions have been reached for relieving student debt. There are 14 law amendment proposals pending in the TBMM, but none of them were approved. As the problem continued, the issue came back to the agenda, but this time, the KYK debtors were organized and established the KYK Debtors Movement.

#KYKBorcumuzuSil (1)

With the call of the KYK Debtors Movement, students and graduates tried to make their voices heard by sharing screenshots of their KYK debts on social media. #KYKBorcumuzuSil was on the agenda for 18 hours and 30.000 tweets were sent to the hashtag. The hashtag became one of the largest hashtag campaigns in Turkey that week.

The KYK debtors stated that this problem should be solved in the Turkish Grand National Assembly and that they will continue to protest until then.

Why should KYK debts be deleted?

As of 2020, the loan amount given to university students is 550 TL per month. However, in the regulations regarding its repayment, it is stated that this debt will be indexed to the official rate of inflation  and in case of delays in repayments, a monthly 1.4% interest will be applied. Thus, a student who graduated in 2020 faces about 27,000 lira debt and payments of 700 lira per month. Due to the high young unemployment rate, it does not seem possible for many to pay these debts. 

On the other hand, KYK debts are not the result of bad financial decisions on the part of young people. It is emphasized in the regulation of the right to education, which is guaranteed by the constitution, that education should be free. Education can only be free of charge if conditions are met to make it possible to receive education. In other words, access to education for all students is the responsibility of the state. However, if this responsibility is fulfilled, the students’ right to choose whether to take a KYK loan can really be examined. Otherwise, KYK debts continue to be a burden on students as one of the compulsory conditions of education.

(1)#KYKBorcumuzuSil: KYK should delete our debts.