Nearly 15,000 Syrians are enrolled in Turkish universities as of the 2016-2017 academic year, Higher Education Board (YÖK) head Yekta Saraç has said.
One thirds of Syrian university students are women and the rest are men, while 3,473 Syrian students in the country are receiving education as a part of the special “Turkey Scholarship” program, Saraç added.
“Among the overall Syrian student population, 1,149 are postgraduate and 352 are doctorate students. Around 2,000 are receiving education in foundation universities,” he said at a conference on Syrian participation in higher education at Mustafa Kemal University in the southern province of Hatay on March 9.
“The fact that the number of Syrian students receiving education in universities [in Turkey] rose to 15,000 this year from 5,000 in 2014-15 and from 10,000 in 2015-16 shows a rapid increase … There are students receiving education on every spot of the Turkish map,” Saraç also stated.
Noting that Gaziantep University in the southeastern province of Gaziantep tops the list with 1,680 Syrian students, Saraç added that Istanbul University and Karabük University in the Black Sea
province of Karabük are second and third on the list.
“Istanbul University follows Gaziantep University with 1,000 students and Karabük University follows it with 927 students. Mersin University, Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University, İnönü University, Çukurova University, Istanbul Aydın University, Yüzüncü Yıl University and Sakarya University are next on the list,” he said.
“The example of Karabük University shows that the number of students can be high even in provinces where Syrians are not densely populated. This is related to the number of Syrian lecturers the university employs,” Saraç said.
There are currently Syrian students in 35 state and eight private universities across the country, he added.
He also referred to the YÖK’s new system for foreign academics launched last year, noting that this system will make it easier for the “eligible Syrian population to participate in academic life in Turkey.”
Saying that as of 2016 there are a total of 392 Syrian-origin lecturers on duty in Turkey - 327 of whom are in state universities and 65 of whom are in private universities - Saraç said “Turkey is on a hopeful track regarding the issue.”
“The numeric data regarding Syrian students and academics show that we are on a long and difficult path, but also a hopeful one,” he added.
Referring to the wider refugee issue, Saraç noted that around 3 million Syrians are currently in Turkey to “continue living in a humane way.”
“We should all know that our country is looking after our Syrian siblings with all means possible,” he added.