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Turkey: government invests record amount in HE scholarships

The Turkish government has invested a record US$96m in university scholarships to attract foreign students this year in an attempt to boost its status as a quality and affordable alternative to traditional destinations and reach its goal of hosting 200,000 international students by 2023.

Koç University is involved in the Turkish government scholarships programme and also has its own full scholarship programme for PhD students

"This year the government received the highest number of applicants, nearly 90,000, from 176 countries"

“There are more than 4.5 million international students across the world and we have only 1.1% of the total with 54,000. We aim to increase Turkey’s share,” said Serdar Gündoğan, Head of the Turkish Prime Ministry’s International Students Department.

Although this is the largest tranche of scholarships put forward since the government launched the Turkiye Bursları Programme in 2012, over 13,000 overseas students are already studying on government funding.

Overseas mobility into the country reflects linguistic and cultural ties with most students coming from Afghanistan followed by Azerbaijan and Kosovo and Cyprus- a Turkish speaking country.

To attract international students, Turkey has recently increased the number of English-taught courses and, in the government’s review of the country’s internatioanalisation strategy in May, Africa, Asia and Latin America were notched as key markets where relations could be improved.

Efforts appear to be paying off because this year the government received the highest number of applicants, nearly 90,000, from 176 countries compared to 56,000 in 2013 and 44,000 the previous year.

According to Gündoğan, Latin America has shown the greatest interest in the funding programme led by Colombia which has sent about 400 applications this year.

African numbers have also increased over the last three years due to the changing Turkish policy towards Africa, including outreach and financial aid.

“Trends shows increasing numbers of international students coming to Turkey, not only as exchange students but moreover as full time students at graduate and undergraduate level”

Meline Koruk International Relations Manager at leading, Koç University, is confident the funding will continue to boost Turkey’s profile as a study destination.

“The quality of Turkish higher education and the presence in international rankings supports the positioning of Turkey as an alternative quality study destination when compared with the traditional ones, such as the USA and the UK,” she told The PIE News.

“Trends shows increasing numbers of international students coming to Turkey, not only as exchange students but moreover as full time students at graduate and undergraduate level.

The scholarships offered at government level and the ones provided by the foundation universities are encouraging this.”

Overseas mobility into the country reflects linguistic and cultural ties

Koç is among individual universities offering generous funding packages to students in addition to the government’s scholarships.

Its PhD programme automatically grants scholarships to all successful PhD applicants which includes a 100% tuition waiver covering accommodation, health insurance, working space and computer, and a monthly stipend of approximately US$600.

Koç also offers partial scholarships to students at Masters level.

The Turkiye Bursları Programme was established in 2012 by the Presidency. Snce the 1950s more than 80,000 international students have graduated from Turkish universities.

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