Turkey has surpassed Russia with the highest number of students in higher education in the world, according to professor Yekta Saraç, head of the state-run Board of Higher Education (YÖK).YÖK, which oversees Turkish universities, said the number of university students in Turkey was two times higher than that of Germany.
Speaking in Ankara at a meeting with the presidents of privately run universities, Saraç said that although this was a good number, it can be problematic if it is not "managed well." Saraç added that Turkey increased the number of foreign students to 140,000 from 40,000 a few years ago.
The YÖK president said Turkish students have become more selective when it comes to choosing a university. "They don't look if the student quota of a university allows their admission. They now weigh whether that university is suitable for their future. This is what will bring quality to higher education," Saraç said.
YÖK data shows that more than 4 million students attend undergraduate programs while more than 2.7 million pursue associate degree programs. The rest are people studying for a master's degree or a doctorate. In 2017, the number of higher education students was around 7.2 million.
Turkey has more than 112 public universities and that number is steadily increasing as more universities or vocational schools are upgraded to universities every year under the government's plans to establish more than one university in each of the country's 81 provinces.
The removal of yearly fees in 2012 and a change in exams to facilitate university admission contributed to the rise in the number of students.