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Turkey aims to educate 100,000 international students in 2018

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Turkey continues to attract more international students, aiming to increase the current amount of 48,000 foreign students to 100,000. In this vein, $96 million was allocated last year for government scholarship programs for international students.

Turkey wants to attract 1.5 percent of all students from around the world who want to study overseas, which amounts to 100,000, by 2018, according to the ‘International Student Research Project’ report prepared by the Development Research Center.

The report by the center, which operates under the Development Ministry, evaluated the steps that should be taken to draw more international students to Turkey.

The report evaluated the steps that should be taken to draw more international students to Turkey. It revealed the number of international students around the world in the 1970s was 800,000, but this number has now increased to 4.5 million. According to the report, the number of international students is expected to reach eight million, while the market created by international students has increased to $300 billion.

The report also showed the Grand Student Project, which was initiated during the 1992-1993 academic year, led to important developments in terms of international students. Stating the number of international students studying in Turkey has increased to around 50,000 since the early 2000s, the report indicated 48,183 international students studied in Turkey during the 2013-2014 academic year – a market share of 0.9 percent of international students globally. With the initiation of the 10th Development Plan, Turkey expects to increase its market share to 1.5 percent and the number of students to 100,000. The report suggested that “The number of students, which has been increasing in recent years thanks to scholarships given by Turkey, will increase with the same speed in the following periods.”

According to the report, 80 percent of international students in Turkey attend state universities, while 20 percent of them enrolled in foundation (private) universities in the 2013-2014 academic year. Thus, foundation universities also claim less market share compared to state universities. Additionally, 60 percent of all international students in Turkey attend universities in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Konya and Erzurum.

According to data from the Prime Ministry’s International Students Department, Turkey has also increased the amount of international scholarships it awards in an effort to become a global education hub. Currently, 13,000 international students enrolled in Turkish universities are funded by the government’s education programs. The country allocated about TL 203.9 million ($96 million) to government scholarship programs in 2014, setting a new record. Moreover, nearly 90,000 applications from 176 countries have been filed for the coming academic year, reaching the highest number so far. This is compared to the 56,000 international student applications in 2013 and 44,000 in 2012, according to the International Students Department data.

Turkmenistan has the largest number of students in Turkey, followed by Azerbaijan and Iran, data from Turkey’s Council of Higher Education revealed. Africa’s share has also increased in the last three years due to Turkey’s policy toward the continent, which involves outreach and financial aid.

Turkey not only provides education for international students at universities, but also hosts cadets at the Turkish Military Academy. The academy has trained many statesmen, chiefs of general staff and commanders in Turkey’s history, and is training future commissioned officers from Asian, African and European countries in addition to Turkish officers. As part of bilateral agreements, 285 students from 19 countries, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Moldova, Gambia, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Somalia and South Korea, are educated at the academy.

The country is increasing its efforts to send students abroad too, as Turkey ranks among the top 15 countries for students who study abroad. Deniz Akar, general manager of the International Educational Fair of Turkey (IEFT), which helps nearly 10,000 Turkish students study abroad every year, said Turks have become more interested in graduate programs in other countries. He said they expect record attendance at IEFTs around Turkey, which will commence on November 5, and added that approximately 100,000 Turkish students go abroad to study every year. “Almost $1.5 billion is spent by these students,” Akar said. Turkish students mainly study abroad in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, China, Malaysia, Hungary, Russia and Poland, respectively.

Resource: Daily Sabah, 7 May 2015

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