A popular scholarship program among foreign students, the Turkey Scholarship program, of the state-run Turks Abroad and Related Communities directorate, boasts graduates who have risen to prominent positions in their homeland, including a constitutional court president, a cabinet minister, a lawmaker and a university president.
The program, which currently grants more than 130,000 scholarships to students from 161 countries, has elevated Turkey's image as an educational hub, especially for students from disadvantaged countries and those from countries with close ties to Turkey.
Enver Hasani, a law professor and former president of Kosovo's Constitutional Court, Dr. Rasid Hadzovic, a minister in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Komaruddin Hidayat, a rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Indonesia, and Ayhan Karayusuf, a lawmaker for the Syriza Party in Greece, are among the beneficiaries of the Turkish grants. Former Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta is also a student who received a Turkey Scholarships grant.
The program aims to turn Turkey into an attractive hub for students from across the globe.
It is part of Turkey's effort to expand its clout in public diplomacy. Applicants hail from every part of the world, from Denmark to St. Kitts and the Nevis islands. Medicine and engineering are among the most popular majors for foreign students, along with international relations and economics.
Figures show that international students are increasingly flocking to Turkey in their pursuit of higher education. In 2016, visas were issued to 61,116 new students. In that same period, an estimated 795,962 foreign students had already been granted visas and were residing in Turkey. In rank, Azerbaijan, Syria and Turkmenistan contribute the highest percentage of foreign students coming to Turkey to study. The total number of foreign students enrolled at Turkish universities for the 2016-2017 term has reached 103,727 individuals, with Afghani students leading with 15,036, students, Syria with 14,765 and Turkmenistan with 10,642.