The latest figures from the association, that claims to provide almost two thirds of all agent business in the country, show that 80% of members have seen an increase in business on last year.
Speaking with The PIE News, Gokhan Islamoglu coordinator for UED, said that in addition to young demographics increased buying power has contributed to growth. “Numbers are up because of the powerful position of the Turkish economy,” he said.
“Numbers are up because of the powerful position of the Turkish economy”
“We accept that the economy is strong but it’s still open to effects of the political situation. But nobody is expecting a bad surprise so if the economy and the political situation stays the same I can say that the Turkish market will continue to increase.”
Of the 44 member agencies, 48% reported seeing between 1-20% growth compared to 2012 while 16% said business was up between 21-40%. An additional 12% saw an increase of 41-60% and 4% said businesses grew by more than 81%.
With no national statistics of students who study languages or degrees abroad, Islamoglu says it’s difficult to measure the outbound market however he estimates agencies are involved in about 55% of all Turkish overseas study. UED claims that its member base accounts for 69% of all agent business.
With the youngest population in western Europe, the Turkish government and private sector is struggling to keep up with the demand for education and language training. Over a third of UED agency students were aged between 19-24 and in the latest EF English Proficiency Index, Turkey is considered “low proficiency”, ranking 41st out of 60.
“Turkish people are more and more integrated with other regions so they need to learn other languages,” said Islamoglu. “But on the other hand when the necessity for learning English is increasing the quality level of language education in Turkey is decreasing.”
In 2013, language school and summer programmes made up more than 40% of members’ business. “The capacity in private language schools is not enough to satisfy the young members of our nation,” he added.
General standard courses continue to be the most popular among Turkish students with over half of students studying between 4 to 12 weeks. The UK and USA are the preferred destinations followed by Germany and Malta. The UK outranks all destinations in summer course preferences.
Similarly, UED says there is a critical shortage of university places across the country. Last year there were 1,800,433 high school graduates for 405,000 places at state and private universities resulting in a 22% acceptance rate.
“Even if the number of the universities in the country has increased from 80 to 170 in few years, Turkey still needs to add new universities in its education system and increase the capacity of the existing ones,” commented Islamoglu.
“For the future it will always be difficult for Turkish students to enter university in Turkey, maybe the ratio can increase to 35% but it will always be difficult for university students to get a degree here.”
“Nobody expects an improvement in the near future about the quota of universities”
The limitations of domestic universities has created opportunities for agencies to place students in foreign programmes. After language courses, undergraduate and further education degrees were in the highest demand according to UED members.
The UK, USA and Canada were the most popular study destinations with marketing economics & business and engineering & architecture fields each attracting a quarter of all students.
Despite recent declines in the Turkish lira, after local elections on March 30th, the currency has rallied and demand remains high for foreign study Islamoglu said.
“Within the last month and half we have had some problems regarding the currency exchange rates but before that the Turkish economy was strong. So people can easily see the future and they’re hopeful about it.”