Over the past five years, Turkey has become a hotspot for international students. More so for foreign Muslim students who are seeking higher education at one of its 167 universities. This is an attempt by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make Turkey a role model in the Islamic world.
According to statistics provided by the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM), there has been a rise of foreign students within the past five years. During the 2005-2006 academic year, there were 16,059 international students attending Turkish educational institutions and universities. By the 2010-2011 academic year the numbers had risen to 26,911 students. Turkey is aiming to increase the numbers to 100,000 by 2015.
To attract even more international students, state universities have made changes to their quotas. They offer international students lower tuition fees than local students, along with generous scholarships. In return, private institutions have taken similar measures to also attract international students.
Students that are being admitted to these schools vary in racial, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. At Faith University, one director said that by accepting students with a variety of backgrounds, it becomes a form of Turkey’s contribution to world peace.
Turkey hopes to set an example to other Muslim-majority countries. By embracing a diverse world, Turkey is also expanding its higher education curriculum. “Turkish universities… are rapidly catching up with the world’s highest standards,” said Sedat Gocen, the secretary-general of a private institution in Antalya. “Turkey is becoming a hub of higher education in the region.”