Turkey's top university authority announced yesterday that the limitations on the number of foreign students seeking to study in Turkish universities has been abolished. Thus, universities will be able to expand their 50 percent quota for foreign students, a positive move in the government's drive to make Turkey an education hub in the Middle East and Europe.
Before it was abolished, universities were only allowed to accept foreign students whose number did not exceed 50 percent of the total quota every university defines yearly for new admissions.
The Board of Higher Education (YÖK) which oversees universities, announced that medicine and dentistry will be the only exception and the 50 percent quota will still apply to these branches. However, universities with enough facilities to house a large number of students and meet criteria for education standards will be allowed to admit any number of students into these branches, providing a separate class for them.
YÖK President Yekta Saraç says they wanted to make Turkey a center of attraction for higher education opportunities. He pointed out that they took first steps to achieve this goal by setting up an international relations department at YÖK and drafting a strategic plan for international efforts. "I think we are conducting a successful process," Saraç said, noting that Turkey signed deals with 34 countries since the 1980s in cooperation on education and to boost the number of students choosing Turkey for higher education. "The recognition of our universities, especially in neighboring countries, increased and we get good results from our initiatives to make Turkey more known for its universities in Africa and the Balkans. Today, we have 148,000 foreigners studying in Turkey, compared to about 40,000 four years ago," Saraç says. Saraç added that they have seen "a leap" in the number of foreign students , an unprecedented increase not even seen in European countries. "This is the result of serious planning and endeavor. A new student and lecturer exchange program, updated accredited diploma regulations, new scholarships and initiatives to attract qualified foreign lecturers played a role in the increase," Saraç said.