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Turkey: demand for study abroad endures

Covid-19 has not caused a drop in demand for study abroad among students in Turkey, agents in the country have highlighted, but short term study visa delays are thwarting student attempts to travel for language studies.

Despite the global pandemic and economic crises, interest in international study remains high in Turkey. Photo: pexels

"Once the borders open in Canada, get ready. We'll be sending"

However, study travel agents appear confident that embassies and consulates in the country are working hard to deal with visa requests.

“Maybe we [can] expect a shift towards countries that open up their consulates as soon as possible”

“Numbers will not drop because of Covid-19,” said Aslihan Özenç from ASBA Education Consulting and president of UED.

“What do we expect now? Maybe we [can] expect a shift towards countries that open up their consulates as soon as possible. They can work with our students…there’s a great demand,” she explained, speaking at a StudyExpo webinar.

Vice President of FELCA and manager of GKR Educational Counselling Eren Göker explained that the visa approval rate for the UK – not including Tier 4 visas – is currently around 50% of UED members. In 2019, this rate stood at around 99%.

“Students – strangely – if they are refused, they reapply and they get their visas,” Göker highlighted.

Long term study visas for higher and secondary education seem to be on the whole processed “much quicker”, he added.

“Of course, there will be changes after Covid, but the changes will be according to consulates and the borders,” he said.

“If your consulate in Turkey is open and issuing visas and your school is open, don’t worry. We will sort the rest.”

While the Irish embassy is collecting student applications for higher education and language courses, there is a backlog of at least 400 applications for the latter courses due to the embassy not being able to issue language school student visas – adding up to around 6,000 student weeks, Göker noted.

Meanwhile, processing times for visas at the Canadian embassy are around 20 weeks, he continued.

“We are enrolling students for February 2021 and they’re paying for their course from now on. So once the borders open in Canada, get ready. We’ll be sending.”

Malta’s recently implemented new regulations will create a “much more successful” process, he predicted.

“Maltese schools are lucky. They should thank their government.”

While Australian and New Zealand borders remain closed, the US embassy “is trying its best”.

“They are in communication with UED. They’re sending regular information,” he said, but added that appointment slots have been unavailable.

“We need more appointment slots because there is more demand for US. We are getting applications for the visa appointments two months time. We need immediate appointments.”

Quoting statistics from a SODEV report from May, Özenç said two-thirds of Turkey’s youth have plans for studying abroad and living abroad in the future.

“They don’t think the jobs [in Turkey] are merit based,” she said.

“They’re not going to be able to land a job if they don’t know anyone up in the system in Turkey.

“And they do not believe education in Turkey will provide them with the future they are hoping for. So, unfortunately, our youth has lost their hope in the Turkish higher education system.

“I think whoever can establish the safety and the well-being of the students and receive those students are going to benefit from the Turkish student numbers because the demand is there.”

Despite some consolidation such as agencies closing or merging branches, until now no Turkish agencies have known to be closed as a result of the pandemic, Özenç added.

“We have UED members who are cooperating with each other in sending certain students to certain countries.

“Unfortunately, our youth has lost their hope in the Turkish higher education system”

“I think we’re going to see a stronger connection and links between them agencies and organisations and institutions. So if we are closer and stronger together, I think we’re going to pull out of this one as well,” she explained.

Despite economic worries – the Turkish lira has recently hit record lows – Özenç suggested that demand for international education will remain.

“During economic crises in Turkey and the desire to study abroad doesn’t diminish. Those families have savings,” she explained, often in foreign currencies.

“Families in Turkey save for their children,” she concluded.

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