Turkey aims to increase the number of foreign students studying in the country, the Turkish president said on Wednesday.
"Our goal is to increase international students [in Turkey] to 200,000 until 2023," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told at a graduation ceremony of the Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).
Turkey hosts nearly 150,000 international students, according to the head of Turkey's Council of Higher Education, Yekta Sarac.
"We see you as Turkey's 'mission chiefs' when you return to your home countries," Erdogan added, addressing international students studying in Turkey.
"In this hall, I see future ministers, premiers, politicians, artists and -- hopefully -- Nobel laureate scientists. In this hall, I see hearts that will serve both their countries and the whole of humanity with their works," he added.
Stressing that most applicants of Turkey scholarships come from areas struggling with serious problems such Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Myanmar, Erdogan said this was a sign that the program was achieving its goal.
"We are currently hosting 150,000 international students from 182 different countries studying in our country," he said.
A voice of friends and brothers
President Erdogan underlined that Turkey bravely expressed that "the world is bigger than five" with its self-confidence stemming from the progress the country has made in recent decades.
"If there is a Turkey which raises its voice against injustice and lawlessness, this is the result of success achieved during our period," he said.
Erdogan added that due to the result of diplomatic victories as well as economic, Turkey embraced Palestine, assisted Africa and protected its brothers in Central Asia and Balkans.
He added that Turkey never adopted violence or illegal methods to serve its interests.
Erdogan underlined that Turkey would uphold its "principled stance", enshrining the legitimacy of democracy, diplomacy and elections.
Erdogan called for the establishment of women-only universities in Turkey, pointing to Japan, which he said has 80 such higher education institutions, out of a total of 800.
Asking Turkey’s higher education board to work on a similar system, he said this would be "important" for Turkey.
"Turkey should take a similar step," he said.
Erdogan visited Japan last week to attend the G20 Leaders' Summit in Osaka, where he met world leaders of 19 countries and the EU.
He also noted that there were two universities, 269 schools and 35 dormitories operating abroad via Turkey’s Maarif Foundation.
Turkey's Maarif Foundation establishes schools and education centers outside of the country.
He added that many non-governmental organizations have similar initiatives both inside and outside of the country.
*Writing by Burak Bir, Sibel Ugurlu and Sena Guler
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