Following the recent announcement of changes to Turkey’s recognition of overseas degrees, Gokhan Islamoglu, Coordinator of Turkish agency association UED, explains the changes and presents opinions from member agencies about the impact on demand for several key destination countries.  

The Republic of Turkey has one of the biggest populations in Europe and Asia. When taking into account the fact that more than 50 per cent of Turkey's population consists of people younger than 30, it comes easy to predict the Turkish youth's demand for education. This issue is showing itself especially in the demand for university education.

In Turkey there is a central examination for university entrance which has two steps. The first exam is YGS and those who gets minimum score in the first exam get the right to attend the second exam; LGS. According to official numbers, 2.046.716 students applied to enter the YGS in 2015, however only 21 per cent of these students will be able to get a chair for themselves in one of the 104 state and 72 private universities of the country for a four-year programme.

On the other hand, Turkey has been more and more integrated in the global world in the last decade, culturally, politically and economically. Many young citizens of Turkey at different social and economic levels of society want to improve themselves by studying abroad in order to widen their horizons, realise the academic, cultural and eventually the economic progress in their lives.

It is not difficult to bring these two facts together and estimate that young Turkish students go abroad for their university education in huge numbers every year. As a matter of fact, Turkish students show a great interest to complete their higher education abroad, mainly in English-speaking countries as UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

However, as the annual member agency survey of the Turkish Agency Association UED shows, huge numbers of young Turks in university entrance age are showing interest in many European countries, mainly Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Spain as well. Universities of Eastern European region are also being preferred, especially because of the relatively low fees and costs. As a European Union candidate country, Turkey is a part of Bologna Declaration and this is another factor that pulls the interest to higher levels.

The higher education system in the Turkey is being administrated by YOK-Higher Education Council. Unfortunately, YOK brought new regulations for Turkish students who want to study their bachelor degrees abroad and informed the nation by a surprising announcement. Below you can find a full translation of the announcement:

“During recent years, there has been a lot of demand to study degrees abroad relating to medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, law and engineering; these degrees relate to public health.

Students who could not successfully gain a place at a Turkish university applied for these degree programmes abroad and easily received offers without much effort. This has damaged public morale.

We have had large complaints from the public that the students who were accepted and started their degrees in those universities overseas, were attending courses abroad that were taught by unqualified Turkish staff or translators and also having to study the Turkish language classes during their degree programmes.

Of course, we support students’ rights to study abroad and indeed we encourage it, however, the problem is that some universities abroad who have their own regulations, do not regulate attendance or allow students to gain a degree without attending classes. In some cases, large groups of Turkish students are taken by a university, registered in a group at the university and graduate easily. Naturally, this is cause for concern when those degree programmes being offered relate to public health and create a huge cause for concern amoung the public.

Our board not only considers the quality of Turkish education but also we must consider the quality of the education Turkish students receive abroad. Therefore, before making the decision below, we discussed and shared our thoughts with other institutions and together developed the following rules.

To recap, lately the Turkish Higher Education Ministry has received a large number of complaints therefore, our institution evaluated the situation on 12th February 2015 and have devised the following rules:

Any student who graduates from high school and is going to study abroad in a university ranked in the top 500 of CWTS Leiden rankings, academic ranking of world universities (Shanghai) and University Ranking by Performance (Urap) are excluded from the following rules:

- Students who wish to study abroad must take the YGS and LYS given by OSYM (university entrance test) in 2015/2016

- Whoever wants to study medicine must socre within the first 40,000 students taking the OSYM exams

- Whoever wants to study law must score within the first 150,000 students taking the OSYM exams

- Whoever wants to study other subjects must score in the OSYM exam*.

- If the subject area they wish to study abroad is not in the OSYM guidebook then students should get a minimum of 140 points for HND degrees and 180 points for Bachelor Degrees”

We have asked UED member agencies to give their opinions about this decision and the possible effects to the interest in study university education abroad in several countries:


“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 already started their pathway and do not have time to study for the local exam as they are already in UK. YOK accreditation has never been an issue for UK public higher education providers apart from the unexpected regulation changes like this. This problem seems to be for 2015 enrolments only. In my opinion, this change will not affect student number to UK public higher education providers for the coming years.”

Eren Goker, GKR Education Consulting


“I personally always advised my students to take the university placement exam in Turkey and achieve the minimum score to be eligible to study a four-year degree in Turkey.  Although this was not required for foreign diploma approvals for a period of eight-to-nine years, it was always required for possible university transfers back to Turkey. I don’t think this requirement is as bad as it sounds. Under normal circumstances, a student who completes the minimum requirements of a Turkish high school diploma should be able to easily achieve the minimum score of 180 to qualify to study a four-year degree. Of course, there are extreme cases where students suffer since their university entrance eligibility is based on a one-time, four-hour exam during 12th grade, but that’s a totally different subject. 

This new regulation will not have any negative effects on students planning to study in the US or in any other country for that matter. On the contrary, 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.”

Irmak Ortac, Asba Education Colsulting

Germany & Austria

“The announcement of the decision which was taken by Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) on 02.03.2015 about the education on abroad has no effect on Turkish students who are willing to take their undergraduate education in Germany or Austria. The students who are aiming to continue their education in Germany or Austria must meet the requirement of placement to the same field in Turkish Universities, which means they must be placed to the one of the government, private or Cyprus Universities by Student Selection and Placement Centre – so-called OSYM. Then they can apply to the universities in Germany or in Austria by placement certificate given by OSYM as it was including the same procedure as it was before and the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK)’s recognition of the diplomas taken from these countries has still been continuing.”

Vildan Tetikol Basaran, Armada Grandee Education Consultancy


“Firstly, I would like to say that this decision has surprised us and our students. However, when we look into the details of the subject at hand, we came to realise that this was a decision taken in order to protect public health in the long term.

In three different lists that are provided as reference by the Higher Education Council, there are 24 Australian institutions listed.

It is evident that this is a decision that will eventually affect all our students, but the majority of universities for Australia actually fit into the criteria set by the Higher Education Council. This actually depends on us too as it is now necessary to go over limit marks that are needed for exams organised by the Higher Education Council in order to secure a place in a programme abroad.”

Seval Sir, IDP


“Italy has some of the world's most prestigious and oldest universities. Although, there are around 90 universities in Italy, mostly publicly funded, and a number of academies which offer profession-oriented programmes, only some of those universities actively compete at the ranking systems. Though rankings are useful indicators of performance at university institutions and can be useful ways of making comparisons, rankings should not be used as the only source of information for forming an opinion about a university or programme. For instance, comparisons with universities with more than one faculty and with scientific departments is a disadvantage for universities with only one faculty such as Università Bocconi, which is one of the best business schools in Europe. In 2014, Bocconi was included in the Academic Ranking of World Universities by Subject Fields Economics/ Business in the 101-150 range. However, Università Bocconi is not currently included in the top 500 universities.”

Engin Cosar, Academix Study Abroad Services


“Poland is one of the best European countries for Turkish students who want to have a qualified education with thousands of foreign students from all over the world. Polish universities have proven quality of education in the international area. Engineering, Business and Medical programmes are the most chosen programmess in Poland and the diplomas of accredited Polish universities are recognised all over the world.

The Higher Education Council of Turkey has brought the requirement of passing the 180 points on the university exam for the students who would like to study abroad and have equivalence if they want to study/work in Turkey and use their diploma officially after graduation.

This requirement was necessary and prevents the unqualified students from having a degree easily from abroad, without passing any exam or showing success, especially in the spesific areas such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, and will increase the quality of student profile.

Consequently, having education in English language within a multicultural environment in Poland is still a popular choice for Turkish students, yet they have to pass the required point on Turkish University exam to have equality with the Turkish diplomas.”

Damla Ozdemir, ELT International Education & Student Exchange Services


“The Council of Higher Education (YOK) has changed the regulation for recognation of foreign universities. This new regulation affected Bulgarian universities as well as the other countries’ universities. Most of the students who intend to study in Bulgaria do not prepare for the university entrance exams in Turkey. Therefore, especially the students who intend to study in Bulgaria for the 2015-2016 academic year were effected by this new regulation. As the final decision and announcement was made in March, it is too late for the students to prepare for the exam and reach the required points now. In order to get the recognition for those universities, the students need to pass the university entrance exam in Turkey. Before this, most of the students who intend to study in Bulgaria didn’t attend the university entrance exam in Turkey. Most of the universities’ annual tuition cost is very similar with the private universities in Turkey. With this new regulation, we believe that those students who intend to study in Bulgaria will prefer to study at these private universities  in Turkey instead of studying in Bulgaria. So we believe that the student numbers will be decreased for Bulgaria. Apart from this, recognation of the foreign universities is very important for Turkish male students because of the military obligation duration. Therefore, even if they can work in private sectors without getting the recognition, it is very important because of their military obligation duration.

If we need to compare the universities between Turkey and Bulgaria, there are very qualified and established universities especially in the fields of technical and applied sciences in Bulgaria. Some of these universities have existed since the 1940s. In my opinion, it is not fair to apply this new regulation for all universities in a country. There are many students who intend to study engineering in qualified technical universities in Bulgaria. On the other hand, Bulgarian universities are mostly chosen by the students who want to study medical sciences. It is really impossible for these students to come back to Turkey and work as a doctor or dentist after their graduation without the recognation of their diplomas in Turkey. Therefore, we do not think that the students will choose to study these fields in Bulgaria any more and this will decrease the numbers of the students who want to study in Bulgaria.”

Gokce Ozer, Idealsas Study Abroad Services


“As MEDA, we are supporting this decission of YOK. Because as it was clearly mentioned in the announcement above, during the passing years we have really faced with this kind of complaints too...

On the other hand, we believe this decision will be of benefit to the students who are not only want to get a bachelor degree but really keen to study medicine or law and want to get a career in one of these fields.

As a matter of fact, in our agency we carefully choose our business partners and as a result of this, all the Hungarian universities that we represent already have Higher Education Council's accreditation and are within the first 500 universities in the rankings mentioned in the YOK's announcement. These universities also have world wide recognition, not only in the European Union countries.”

Yelis Ayan Estas, MEDA Education Consultancy


Our comment as MONAT International Education Consultancy will be very short indicating that none of the students we are counselling will be intimidated by this new rule of YOK, just because all of the universities we are working with and referring our client students to have extremely high positions  in the overall world university rankings. In this respect, our agency’s referred students will not face any difficulties on their return to Turkey upon their graduations as far as the accreditation of their diplomas by YOK will be considered.

Meral A. Onat, MONAT International Education Consultancy

*(All Turkish universities have an entry point requirement for every subject of the OYSM results in order to gain a place; for example Bosphorus and METU have amoung the highest point requirements, and there are other universities that come at the bottom of the lists with low entry point requirements. This requirement means that students wishing to study abroad must have gained at least the minimal entry point requirement of a Turkish university for the subject area – in other words, if their point is too low for any Turkish university, then they will not be allowed to study abroad).

Print This Page Close Window Archive