Turkey as a study destination and Istanbul, the most dynamic city, offer a wealth of cultural and educational activities; as the financial hub for the region, business is booming,” says James Halliday at Koç University, about a country that has doubled its overseas student numbers in the last five years to over 30,000, according to the Student Selection and Placement Centre ÖSYM.
“In terms of quality of life, the high level of services puts Istanbul on a standard with major world cities. And given the turmoil in the Middle East, Turkey has become the preferred study destination for high-quality study in a safe environment,” Halliday adds. “The increasing internationalisation of the higher education sector in Turkey offers greater opportunities to students and graduates with a unique profile and global awareness.”
“Diversity is richness,” says Filiz Topaloglu, International Student Coordinator at Istanbul Aydin University (IAU). “Students will meet East and West together in Turkey, which has the combined characteristics of the two continents: Europe and Asia.” It is a youthful, dynamic country with an emerging market economy, she adds. “The quality of education and the teaching staff at Turkish universities offers international students a world of opportunities to get the skills they need for a global world,” she says, adding that tuition and living costs are more affordable than most of Europe and the USA.
Programmes at Koç University, Istanbul, are taught in English, with all overseas students welcome, providing they meet the requisite course requirements. “International full-time and exchange students at Koç University can benefit from a world-class education in English and enjoy the modern yet traditional life in Istanbul,” says Halliday. There is also a comprehensive array of opportunities and support for overseas students, Halliday explains. “Internships, research opportunities and assistantships at graduate level are available for international students,” he says. To assist post-study work searching, the Career Development Centre and Office of International Programs has launched the ‘Going Global Career and Employment Resources’ platform, which has a database of 33 country career guides and more than 600,000 job and internship listings.
“Koç University gives importance to students’ welfare and for that reason a mentor system is in place,” says Halliday. “Upon arrival of international students, mentors are assigned based on the breadth of their international exposure and prior experience. Mentors will welcome and assist students through registration, campus facilities, student support services and also Turkish culture and lifestyle.” He adds that Turkish language courses are also available.
“Istanbul Aydin University offers some programmes in English at undergraduate and graduate level,” says Topaloglu. “There is a preparatory year to learn English. For Turkish programmes, IAU offers Turkish (Tömer Turkish Language Centre) courses throughout the year.” She adds, “IAU has been awarded with ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) and the Diploma Supplement labels by the European Commission.”
In terms of education, Topaloglu says links with industry are an important part of the IAU philosophy. “All physical and social areas in IAU were arranged for students to gain skills in terms of their profession and to adapt to business life.”
Ankara University was established by Atatürk, says Hayati Ecevit in the International Student Office, and is emblematic of the growth of Turkey as a study destination with 2,400 international students, a number increasing every year. The university has partnership agreements with over 100 universities and research institutes worldwide and Erasmus bilateral agreements with over 375 universities from 26 different European countries, meaning there were more than 450 incoming and outgoing exchange students in the 2011/12 academic year.
International students benefit from a range of services, said Ecevit, and there are discounted opportunities to learn more than 20 languages at the language centre. The International Student Office was established in 2009 to cater for the growing demand and to “provide an inspiring, appealing and peaceful campus environment” for international students in Ankara.
Exchange programmes have done much to internationalise Turkish campuses, alongside full-time student increases. “The international student community at Koç University has shown a dramatic increase both in number and quality of exchange and full-time students,” says Halliday. “Currently, we host more than 400 exchange students per year, with more than 100 full-time international students enrolled in degree programmes.” He adds, “Our more than 220 global partners, international accreditations and networks, and high rank in the Times Higher Education encourage high-quality students from around the world.” At IAU, meanwhile, Topaloglu says, “We have 713 international students from 44 different countries. Our biggest markets are the Middle East, Central Asia/Eurasia and Africa.” With more than 60 students, Iran is the top source, she adds.
Recruitment for Turkey
With Turkish universities looking to increase international student numbers, agents are an integral part of the process at private institutions. “We take pride in our own internationalisation efforts, and this means both encouraging and enabling exchange for international students and the active recruitment of full-time students from abroad,” says James Halliday, International Strategic Development Coordinator at Koç University, Istanbul. “We identify the most talented students for our full-degree programmes based on recommendations and introductions made by global representatives in the field and through universities in targeted strategic regions.” He adds, “Taking time to build these relationships is essential to their long-terms success, so we engage a very hands-on approach in the search process for both agents and students.”
Filiz Topaloglu, International Student Coordinator at Istanbul Aydin University (IAU), says, “IAU recruits students through agents and through participating in education fairs. IAU works with more than 75 agents and representatives.” She adds they are “still looking to find new agents”.