The institution, which officially opened in 2014 and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research via the DAAD, has confirmed the scholarships for current students. Many of the students’ families are from the region in the South East of the country that was devastated by the earthquake which killed some 50,000 people earlier this year.
TAU/ TDU in Istanbul – which has reorganised its academic calendar for the year in response to the crisis – wanted to make an immediate impact for its students.
“A lot of students were involved. A lot of students came from the affected region and the semester had just started,” Wiebke Bachmann, head of Section K-TDU for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), told The PIE. “We thought about what can we do very fast.”
Along with a fund for study materials, such as paper, books and computers, the university had initially sought to introduce 20 scholarships for the year.
“We thought about what if families cannot support their kids anymore financially for their studies. For the 20 scholarships, we had over 70 applications, with some students losing their whole family,” Bachmann explained.
The final decision meant three of 48 scholarships were given to students most affected who received a full €500 per month, with the remainder getting €300 per month.
JPMorgan has estimated the cost from destroyed structures could exceed $25 billion while Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put the total needed nearer to $104 billion earlier this week.
The EU has agreed to send Turkey €1bn ($1.07bn) for reconstruction, with EU president Ursula von der Leyen calling for schools and homes to be built “with the highest standards of seismic safety”.
Erdoğan was present at the inauguration of the campus in early 2020 together with his Germany counterpart Angela Merkel, where the German chancellor spoke of the importance of education for refugees.
“Education is particularly valuable for refugees, because education gives hope for a better future – either for the time after returning home, where they can help with reconstruction, or through good integration into the host society,” she said at the time.
TDU shared information with its 38-member university consortium across Germany, with several launching fundraising initiatives and other support initiatives, Bachmann added.
Canada has announced a support measure for Turkish and Syrian temporary residents aiming to help them apply for visa extensions more easily.
“All the Turkish universities connected right away”
A team of UK academics from UCL, co-led by Yasemin Didem Aktas from the institution’s Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering department, has travelled to the region to assess building damage.
Bachmann also praised the togetherness of the Turkish higher education system in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
Close to 1,000 staff and students from Firat University in Elazığ helped with food distribution, with 20 trucks of supplies donated from the institution, while Abdullah Gül University in Kayseri sheltered some 2,000 victims on campus immediately following the quake.
“All the Turkish universities connected right away and supported each other, took families into student dorms from the regions,” Bachmann said.
“They emptied a whole technology hall, for example, in order to be able to get the refugees there. All the students helped… There was a huge amount of help in Turkish society.”
Donations for the crisis are still being collected:
Non-governmental search and rescue organisation, AKUT
Turkish voluntary network, Ahbap
Kaplan’s Turkey & Syria Earthquake Support Fund for Oxfam
IIE’s Türkiye and Syria Response
Cara SYRIA/TURKEY EARTHQUAKES appeal
Update: March 27, GMT 11:15: this article previously stated that the scholarships were worth €15,000. This is the monthly cost of funding. Overall, €150,000 has been allocated for the scholarships.