Turkish agents respond to HE accreditation rules

08 May, 2015

Recent changes to Turkey’s higher education accreditation system that may require some Turkish students studying overseas to still undertake the Turkish national university entrance exam should not greatly affect agency business, according to members of national association UED.  


Under the new arrangements announced by the Higher Education Council (YÖK) recently, students that attend an overseas university ranked within the Top 500 globally – based on the CWTS Leiden,  Shanghai and URAP ranking systems – will be exempt from the entrance exam rules.

Otherwise, Turkish students attending a non-Top 500 university will need to take both the YGS (first stage) and LYS (second stage) entrance exams administered by the ÖSYM exam and placement body

Those taking the test will need to score at least the minimum subject requirement for their subject field. Additionally, students wishing to study medicine must rank within the top 40,000 students taking the test, while students planning to study law overseas must score within the top 150,000.

However, UED member agencies sending to the major higher education destinations are not overly concerned by the new rules.

Regarding the most popular destination for Turkish students, Eren Goker of GKR Education Consulting and President of UED, said, “In my opinion, this will not affect student numbers to UK public higher education providers for the coming years.”

Irmak Ortac of Asba Education Consulting said she was not worried about any impact on demand for the USA. She already recommends clients take the entrance exams and said students completing high school diplomas should have no problems passing. “This regulation is actually for the students’ own sake to make sure they have enough academic infrastructure to benefit from the education they will receive abroad.”

A large number of university partners are ranked within the top 500 criteria, negating the need for students to take entrance exams. Goker said YÖK accreditation has never been a problem for UK institutions, a point echoed by Meral A. Onat at Monat International Education Consultancy regarding Canadian partner schools. Seval Sir of IDP Turkey added 24 Australian institutions meet YÖK’s criteria.

MEDA Education Consultancy is a specialist in Hungarian universities, and Yelis Ayan Estas said, “In our agency we carefully choose our business partners and as a result of this, all the Hungarian universities we represent have YOK accreditation and are within the Top 500 universities in the rankings mentioned.”

However, Engin Cosar of Academix Study Abroad Services cautioned that some Italian universities are not actively competitive within ranking systems, despite their age and prestige. “Though rankings are useful indicators of performance at university institutions…rankings should not be used as the only source of information for forming an opinion about a university or programme,” he said.  

Business to Bulgaria, which currently receives Turkish students especially within technical programmes, could also be affected by the rules, said Gokce Ozer from Idealsas Study Abroad Services. She commented students would be more likely to study in Turkish private institutions under the new rules.

The largest impact will be on students already overseas and unable to adequately prepare for the ÖSYM tests this year. “Recent changes to accreditation of overseas diplomas in Turkey will affect many of our students who are on language or foundation pathways to universities in 2015. Those students have already started their pathway and do not have the time to study for the local exam,” said Goker.

YÖK said it introduced the new regulations because public morale had been damaged by students that could not gain places at Turkish universities being easily accepted by overseas institutions, particularly within study fields related to public health.

In UED’s previously reported member survey data for 2014, unveiled at the Alphe Istanbul Conference, the UK was the most popular higher education destination for UED clients with 48 per cent market share, followed by the USA and Canada.  

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