By Bahattin Gonultas and Gokhan Ergocun
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish students are exploring the possibility of studying in the U.K. and Canada following the visa row with the U.S., several told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
“I was going to the U.S. with the Work and Travel program for the third time but the visa ambiguity pushed me and my friends into searching for alternatives,” 22-year-old Onur Donmez said.
He added: “We will probably go to England for a language school because we do not want to take the risk.”
On Sunday, the U.S. suspended non-migrant visa applications in Turkey following the arrest of a local worker at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. Ankara responded by imposing similar restrictions.
More than 1.4 million foreign students, including nearly 11,000 Turks, enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities for the 2015-16 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.
Foreign students contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy.
Ergun Coskun, 22, also said he was considering alternatives to studying in the U.S.
“I want to go to the U.S. but if not I will go to England for a language course or postgraduate study,” he said.
- Student fairs
Ali Ersoy, director of the Anglo-Turkish Education Consultancy, said most Turkish students had picked the U.K. as their first alternative to America.
He said the visa row would affect the numbers applying for next year’s academic year because college and university representatives usually visit Turkey in October and November to promote their institutions.
The crisis had also created concerns about the stability of future Turkey-U.S. relations, he added.
“The US is losing this serious potential,” Ersoy told Anadolu Agency.
Deniz Akar, general director of International Education Fairs of Turkey, said around 35 U.S. colleges and universities tended to visit Turkey in the autumn.
The next fair is scheduled in 10 days’ time and Akar said many of the U.S. institutes were facing problems in attending.
He said around 30,000 Turkish students headed to the U.S. every year -- 10,000 to language schools, 12,000 to universities and 6,000 under the Work and Travel program.
They contributed around $800 million to the U.S., Akar added.
Turkey's Council of Higher Education said 472 U.S. nationals studied in Turkey and 364 worked as lecturers.