Foreign student quotas eliminated in Turkish universities

The Higher Education Council (YÖK) in Turkey has eliminated the quota which allowed the acceptance of foreign students up to 50% of overall students a given university programme
Wednesday, 08 May 2019 13:04

The Council of Higher Education (YÖK) in Turkey has made a new decision on the admissions quotas of higher education institutions for international students. Accordingly, the regulation limiting international student admissions up to 50% of the quotas of the programs has been abolished. This new regulation will apply to all universities, state and private.

Özgür Aydın, the president of the Association of University Participants (ÜKD) and Rıfat Okçabol, who works at the Education Studies in İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University and also soL columnist, have discussed the Council’s decision for soL news.


Aydın underlines that the abandoning of the quota was already demanded by private universities especially since early 2019.

"Private universities stated that 500 thousand foreign students would come to Turkey if the quota is abandoned. The approaching economic crisis threatens the private universities, which have already suffered difficulties of filling up their overall student quotas. Thus, the abandoning of quota for foreign students would solve this problem by serving as an important resource. Such a demand was originally about medical schools and dentistry. The recent amendment regulates medical schools and dentistry; however, universities could still introduce separate classes for foreign students. This demonstrates the level of marketization of education in Turkey," Aydın said.


Aydın responds to our question whether the private universities could easily give diplomas with the recent amendment. "Such a move towards marketization would, of course, ease unlawful acts. The introduction of separate classes would de facto introduce the selling of diploma," he said.


According to Okçabol, "the presence of foreign students would enhance cultural diversity. Nonetheless, 95% of foreign students would come from a religious background according to a study undertaken in 2015".

Okçabol underlines that the overall student quotas are already high considering the number of the academic staff. He states that the abandoning of quota on foreign students would actually decrease the quality of education.

Okçabol also underlines that the recent amendment would enable the Higher Education Council to profit. "If higher numbers of foreign students would come from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, we could think about the profit the Council would get. Nonetheless, the higher number of foreign students actually come from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and other Muslim countries, and they are inclined to commit to religious practices. Since these students would bring a cultural background that opposes to secular and scientific knowledge, the atmosphere in universities would oppose to secular and scientific knowledge," he noted.