OPINION - Turkiye will continue to welcome African students

Turkiye's Council of Higher Education aims to bring Turkiye-Africa relations to next level through humanitarian diplomacy under leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erol Ozvar   | 31.12.2021
OPINION - Turkiye will continue to welcome African students

The writer is the head of Turkiye's Council of Higher Education (YOK).


The African continent – which has thousands of years of history as the cradle of civilizations, born out of the joint participation of different societies – has countries that look at the future with hope despite all the difficulties they face. The rich cultural heritage coming from the depth of history is the greatest strength of these societies.

It is assumed as the duty of the history and geography departments at our universities to conduct serious research on Africa and reveal strong values. We will raise young researchers who academically study the period that we call Ottoman Africa, from the beginning of the 16th century to the 1920s, and modern African nations' struggle for independence against colonialism and the processes they went through afterward. With our doctoral programs called African Studies, we have started academic and scientific studies in this field.

Africa is a geography that should be supported for a more just world. We will bring Turkiye-Africa relations to the next level with the humanitarian diplomacy carried out under the leadership of our President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As the Council of Higher Education, we are determined on this issue.

Becoming a hub for international students

With 204 higher education institutions, more than 8 million students, nearly 182,000 higher education teaching staff, and 105,000 Ph.D. students, the Turkish higher education field is growing every day and can compete strongly with other countries that dominate the global arena.

The Republic of Turkiye has now become an important hub for international students. As of 2021, we have 260,000 international students from 182 countries. While 2005 was declared the Year of Africa ​​in Turkiye, new embassies were opened in Africa, and flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) launched new flights to the continent.

As Turkiye's Council of Higher Education (YOK), we signed memorandums of understanding for cooperation in higher education with 21 countries from the African continent, all at the ministerial level. These protocols paved the way for the realization of various academic activities such as student and teaching staff exchange and joint project development between our universities. Afterward, as a part of the Implementation Protocols, 292 undergraduate and graduate students from 5 African countries were provided with education scholarships by our Council of Higher Education.

According to data from UNESCO, Turkiye is one of the ten countries hosting the highest number of international students globally. After the UK, Germany, France, and Russia, Turkiye ranks 5th among European countries regarding global student capacity. Especially in the last five years, Turkiye has been one of the most important destinations favored by international students.

On the other hand, as part of the ERASMUS exchange program, which we have been involved in since 2004, nearly 70,000 students and nearly 25,000 academic staff have come to Turkish higher education institutions in Turkiye. With 204 higher education institutions and more than 8 million students, Turkiye maintains its status as an active and strong stakeholder in the field of European higher education.

As a country where the orientation period is easy due to its religious and cultural proximity, today, Turkiye is home to around 40,000 students from Africa. One-third of these students, who came to Turkiye from 54 African countries and are receiving higher education, consist of female students. Nearly 20% of these students are receiving postgraduate education. We are proud to be raising these young people in the best way possible for their country, who will contribute to the development of the country by returning to their countries after their graduation.

Our universities attach importance to close cooperation and joint project development with all African universities, especially those in North Africa. A total of 220 academics from 24 African countries work at our universities, and scholars make a significant contribution to the development of academic affairs between our universities.

Potential of Turkiye's Council of Higher Education

Our Council of Higher Education also carries out extensive works to enable international students to adapt to daily life and academic life in Turkiye more easily and to increase their motivation for education and research. It is ensured that orientation programs are made suitable for African students, and these programs are offered by personnel who are interested in African cultures and familiar with their socio-economic and political trends.

Students who have studied and will study education in Turkiye are educated with the formation that will enable their country to take the position it deserves on the world stage.

Humanitarian values, which is Africa's most wonderful gem, will be polished with well-educated young people who will take African countries to the place they deserve in world politics and economy. Turkiye will continue to support the existing potential through partnerships in the field of higher education.

Educated students will ensure the establishment of new collaborations either among our universities or in other fields.

In addition to cooperation in the field of industry and technology, I would like to draw attention to two topics: Health, and agriculture, and livestock.
The pandemic revealed how effective Turkiye's experience in the field of health is, as well as how strong we are in planning. In this process, the boundaries of accessibility of information between continents disappeared. World-renowned universities about vaccines have established information networks. However, when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, we did not see the same performance worldwide. The priority that Turkiye aims for the world is to prioritize humanitarian values at the forefront in all kinds of cooperation.

We have taken another important step in the direction of our goals of internationalization. It has been decided to hold Turkiye's International Student Admission Examination. In other words, TR-YOS will be implemented by Selection and Placement Center (OSYM) as of 2023. TR-YOS exam results will be used for student admission to Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Law, Teaching, and Engineering programs and those who have the TR-YOS  base score or higher determined by YOK will be able to apply to these programs.

For other programs, it will be possible to accept students with criteria such as TR-YOS, ABITUR, and SAT exams, national exams of countries, and high school diploma grades. In this context, we expect the third Turkiye-Africa Partnership Summit, held on Dec. 16-18, to further strengthen the bond between our countries in the field of higher education and to be an incentive for cooperation between our universities.

*Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

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