On the Rise: Turkey’s Need and Desire for Overseas Education
Silje Immerstein, Research & Advisory Services, WES
Turkish students have a long history of travelling abroad for higher education. In 2012 alone, more than 49,000 Turkish students studied abroad. Traditionally, Turkish students have favored Germany for higher education opportunities; however, in recent years, the U.S. has become the most popular destination for outbound Turkish students.
Currently, there are roughly 12,000 Turkish students studying at American institutions of higher education. The majority of Turkish students in the U.S. study at the graduate level (51%). The top three most popular fields of study for Turkish students are engineering (25%), business/management (15%), and the social science fields (14%).
There are myriad reasons why Turkish students seek educational opportunities abroad. Due to a baby boom in between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, Turkey’s youth cohort (ages 15-29) is large, accounting for more than a quarter of the total population. Despite the large number of Turkish students that pass the college entrance exam, only one third matriculate to Turkish universities.
High unemployment rates will also likely continue to fuel the outbound mobility of Turkish students. Recovery from the recent economic crisis has been slow, with job growth faltering since the beginning of 2012. Although employment opportunities are expected to grow, albeit slow, approximately 16% of Turkey’s under-25 population remains unemployed. According to the British Council, 96% of surveyed Turkish students said they believe getting an overseas education is a route to increased job prospects and a secure economic future.
The combined factors of limited access to higher education and poor employment prospects within an emerging economy suggest that Turkey’s rate of outbound student mobility will continue to increase. There is immense potential for student recruitment in this emerging market. The U.S. could remain a top study abroad destination for Turkish students if universities can continue to attract aspiring and financially able youth. Moreover, to learn more about how to tap into the Turkish market, download the free report from World Education Services, “Beyond More of the Same: The Top Four Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment.”
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