Bilkent University was founded on October 20, 1984 by Ihsan Doğramacı
(1915 - 2010) through the joint resolution of the İhsan Doğramacı Education Foundation, the İhsan Doğramacı Science and
Research Foundation, and the İhsan Doğramacı Health Foundation. The aim was to create a center of excellence in higher
education and research. The name "Bilkent" exemplifies the founder's aim, since it is an acronym of bilim kenti,
Turkish for "city of science and knowledge." The university is located in Turkey's capital city of Ankara.
The founder, himself an academic, had earlier contributed to the establishment of numerous public institutions of higher
learning and served as rector of Ankara University, as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Middle East Technical
University and as founder and first rector of Hacettepe University. It had long been his objective to establish a private,
non-profit university distinguished by its high quality education and research. During the time he spent at Harvard and
Washington universities in the United States he had observed the advantages of independently endowed non-profit research
universities that serve the public through higher education. With these in mind he advocated for decades for the Turkish
legal system to allow such institutions, and when this dream finally materialized, he established Bilkent University along
the same lines.
Preparations for Bilkent University had begun as early as 1967, with the purchase of a large tract of
land to the west of Ankara. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the above-mentioned foundations began
construction of the buildings which now house administrative offices, the Faculty of Engineering, and
the library. Bilkent University Library is the most extensive academic library in the country.
Construction of residences for academic staff,
cafeterias, student dormitories, the Student Union building, and various academic buildings followed
in rapid succession.
Bilkent University admitted its first students in 1986. That year there were 386 undergraduate and
graduate students. Currently there are over 13,000 students in nine faculties, two four-year applied
schools, the School of English Language, and three graduate schools.
Among them are international students from 72 countries. Around 65% of the student
body benefit from a variety of scholarships.
From the outset, the design of the university structure provided for student union representatives
to be voting members of the administrative committees of various schools, as well as of the
University Senate. The practice of student evaluation of courses and instructors, at the
time not a common practice in Turkey, was instituted.
In an effort to promote the enrichment of teaching and research programs, Bilkent University has
entered into collaborative projects and exchange programs with many universities; the complete
list being provided at:
To meet the expanding needs of the university, construction has continued throughout the years
since the admission of the first students. Buildings and facilities today include the faculties
and the departments, research centers, modern classrooms, state-of-the-art science and
engineering laboratories, art studios, the Computer Center, the Health Center, gymnasiums,
dormitories, faculty housing, cafeterias and restaurants, the Bilkent Concert Hall for
Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, the Odeon outdoor auditorium which hosts 4,000 people, an
elementary school, a secondary school, a preschool and nursery.
The faculty is comprised of academic staff from over 34 different countries. Most of them were
working in prominent universities in North America and Europe when they received offers
from Bilkent University. According to ISI Citation Indexes, Bilkent ranks high
among universities in Turkey in the number of published papers per faculty member.
Bilkent University ranked 76th in Times Higher Education Young University Rankings and
46th in Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings (2017).
Bilkent has also been named as Turkey's highest-ranked university in the
QS Graduate Employability Rankings (2018).
With world-renowned scholars among its faculty and top-notch facilities throughout its campus,
Bilkent continues to attract many of Turkey's brightest students and is proud of its 42.000
alumni pursuing successful careers in five continents.