International students bring in over $1 billion annually

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 18.10.2019 22:07

The international education industry in the world and in Turkey has been growing rapidly, as more and more students tend to study abroad with different motives. This continued growth in students coming to Turkey for higher education has a significant positive impact on the country.

Some 170,000 international students contribute around $1 billion to the country's economy annually, according to Elif Deveci, the deputy general manager of International Education Fairs of Turkey (IEFT).

Living and education costs for international students in Turley cost around $7,000 on average, Deveci told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Some 2 million students were receiving education in a foreign country in 2010, a figure that has increased to 5 million today, she underscored. "According to OECD [The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] reports, the number of undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in a foreign country will reach 8 million in 2025," Deveci noted.

International education was previously in a structure where developed countries were coming to the fore, she continued. "Currently, even in countries with the best universities such as the U.K., America and Canada, students are going abroad to attend different programs. This proves how universal the industry has become. In this scope, around 1 million foreign students are receiving an education in the U.S., 500,000 are taking education in the U.K. and there are 260,000 foreign students in Germany," she explained.

As far as Turkey is concerned, Deveci said, this number stands at around 170,000 today, out of which most are choosing Turkey for undergraduate studies. "Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan are sending the largest numbers of students. As for the education itself, departments related to health and business attract greater attention," she added.

The 170,000 plus foreign students are pursuing an education in 206 universities across the country, said Mehmet Bulut, the rector of Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU).

Over the years, the country has emerged as a favorite destination for international students, particularly from Muslim nations, Bulut told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Turkey made big investments in education, particularly in the higher education sector, to attract international students, he added.

A major sum of TL 161 billion was allocated to education in the 2019 budget.

The IZU rector said the Turkish government, along with other foundations, is supporting students with numerous facilities including scholarships and dormitories.

"Till 2000, Turkey had less than 100 universities, but now the number has grown to 206," Bulut said.

On the other hand, the president of the Istanbul-based Federation of International Students Association (UDEF) Mehmet Bolat said that Turkish educational institutions are aiming to host 350,000 foreign students by 2023.

Bolat said the education sector in Turkey has developed in leaps and bounds, referring that there were just 10,000 foreign students in 2004.

The UDEF is an umbrella body of all international students' groups active in Turkey which was established in 2012. The UDEF president said that the three state-run universities in Istanbul, Eskişehir and Karabük are hosting most of the international students.

"A decade ago, foreign students used to choose to pursue education in technical education. But, off late social sciences have picked up the pace," he added.

Deveci further emphasized that foundation universities in Turkey also attract great attention from foreign students. She said fees at these universities start from TL 10,000 and can go up to TL 150,000, of which departments related to medicine have the highest fees, from TL 80,000 to TL 150,000, Deveci said.

In contrast, she said, a student going to the U.K. might be spending TL 150,000 as well, however, faces much higher living costs.

Deveci noted that Turkey ranks 12th in the world among countries that attract the highest numbers of foreign students.

"Turkey wasn't even among the first 20 countries back in 2014. Now in 2019, it ranks 12th in the list of countries attracting the highest numbers of foreign students. This actually reveals the importance Turkey attaches to international education, she noted.

On the reasons why foreign students choose Turkey, Deveci underscored changes and renewal in the country's education policy as well as investments made in the universities and serious promotion of Turkish universities and institutions abroad.

"In this scope, you can see Turkish universities at many international events during the year. At the same time, scholarships provided for foreign students and living costs being more affordable in Turkey compared to other countries is the largest factor in the increase of foreign students in Turkey.

She also elaborated on the interest of Turkish students in education in foreign countries. According to UNESCO data, the number of Turkish students going abroad for education stands at over 100,000, said Deveci.

"The U.S., the U.K., Canada, Germany, Austria, France are among the countries they prefer the most," she added.

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