By Riyaz ul Khaliq and Faruk Zorlu
ISTANBUL (AA) – Besides hosting millions of migrants, Turkey is also home to 172,000 foreign students pursuing education in its 206 universities. Over the years, the country has emerged as favorite destination for international students, particularly from Muslim nations.
Turkey made big investments in education, particularly in the higher education sector, to attract international students, Mehmet Bulut, the Rector of Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU), told Anadolu Agency.
A major sum of 161 billion Turkish lira ($30.5 billion) was allocated to education in 2019 budget.
“Till 2000, Turkey had less than 100 universities, but now the number has grown up to 206,” Bulut said.
President of 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 – an umbrella body of all international students’ groups active in Turkey -- was established in 2012.
The IZU rector said the Turkish government along with other foundations, are supporting students with facilities including scholarships and dormitories.
“We have nearly 2,000 foreign students enrolled in our university. They are good in academics. It has helped us to raise the quality of education,” said Bulut.
We also allow students to travel to Europe and other countries to acquire knowledge, he added.
Bulut said that hosting and providing education for foreign students was designed to prepare future global leaders.
Established in 2010, the IZU is hosting as many as 11,000 students. 3,300 of them are perusing graduation.
“More than 15% of the students in our university are from 95 different countries,” Bulut said.
The UDEF president informed that the three state-run universities in Istanbul, Eskisehir and Karabuk are hosting most of the international students.
Most of the foreign students are from Syria, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Somalia.
“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.