The Future of Turkish Universities

By Cemil Ozyurt - The first permanent English settlement in North America was established by the Virginia Company at Jamestown in what is now the state of Virginia in 1607 and only 29 years after the arrival of first colony in America, Harvard College was founded. After Harvard, the College of William & Mary was founded by the Virginia government in 1693.

Now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 4000 colleges and universities operate in the U.S. Strong research and funding have helped make American colleges and universities among the world's most prestigious, which is particularly attractive to international students, professors and researchers in the pursuit of academic excellence.

According to the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, more than 55 of the highest-ranked 100 institutions are in the United States.

Every year, the American higher education system attracts hundreds of thousands of international students from around the world. The most intelligent and successful students seek to come to American colleges.

The number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 3% to 690,923 during the 2009/10 academic year, according to the Open Doors report, and international students contribute nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy.  

In Turkey, there were 27 universities with schools, institutes, conservatories and colleges in 1981. Today it has 103 state universities as a result of the government’s project to build a university in each province, and 63 private foundation universities, the numbers of which have increased particularly in the last 10 years.

While the student enrollment share in private foundation universities was only 4.2 percent in 2005, this figure doubled in 2010 and increased to 8.9 percent. While the number of private foundation universities in 2000 was 20, today there are 63 of them.

The average contribution of private foundation universities to Turkey's economy is estimated at 773 million dollars. They give scholarships to about 160,000 students in private universities in Turkey. In addition, these institutions, with approximately 30,000 employees, including 20,000 academics, contribute to the country's economy by providing employment.

If the private foundation universities realized the importance of international students, Turkish universities would become centers of attraction in the region. The educational quality of universities, proximity to other countries, and the similarity of the social and cultural life of those countries with that of Turkey are Turkey’s advantages in becoming a university hub for its region.

Most private universities in Turkey have been founded in last 20 years and they need time to improve their reputations. Now, Turkey’s 18-25 year old population, which is 27.3 million and 37 percent of the country, is a big enough market for universities but if they want to gain more prestige, respect and reputation, they should focus in the international student market. It helps cultural exchange and reverses brain drain.

Turkish universities also offer very good opportunities for Turkish students who have pursued their education abroad. Just think, every year 12,000 students come to the US from Turkey; later, they will have an option to work at universities in Turkey.

In near future, universities in Turkey need to be among the top-ranked universities in the world. For instance, Jia Tong University, in Shanghai in China, is accepted as the most effective evaluation authority in the area of higher education.  It provides a ranking of   the 500 best universities in the world. Istanbul University was the only university from Turkey to be included in the ranking of 2010.

To improve their quality, more universities in Turkey have entered into cooperation with prestigious universities around the world, especially universities with in the U.S. When taking a look at the improvement of private foundation universities in Turkey, it’s not hard to guess that not so far from now, in 10 years, perhaps, Turkish universities will be getting more students from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Armenia, and so on. To become the leader of its regional higher education, Turkish universities have academicians, facilities, students and potential, but they need to stay away from the mentality that the higher educational system is just another way to make money.


Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07