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Public and private educational institutions in Turkey fall under the umbrella of the Ministry of National Education (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Millî Eğitim Bakanlığı). There are a large number of public and private schools and various educational centers in Turkey. According to the Turkish Ministry of National Education, in 2021-2022, there were approximately 19,155,571 students in the primary and preparatory stages, which means that the number of schools reached 70,383, of which 56,200 are public schools, 14,179 are private schools. This education system, in its current form, was formed after a number of reforms, until it became similar to the European standard of 12 years. Turkish school education is based on the 4 + 4 + 4 system, which means: 

  • Elementary education, from grade one to grade four.
  • Intermediate education, from fifth grade to ninth grade. 
  • Secondary education, from the tenth to the twelfth grade (high school).

There is an atmosphere of patriotism in education in Turkey. Students love their history and are proud of their heroes so lessons often include national characters such as Ataturk and other famous personalities. Usually, students are directed automatically to a school close to their homes so they can reach it on foot or by the school bus that runs through the neighborhood and picks up students and brings them back the same way after school. On the other hand, public schools are well equipped in terms of: computer labs, projectors, libraries, etc. Usually, grades are published in electronic journals so that parents can monitor their children's progress online.

 

School stages in Turkey:

Primary schools: 

Students are transferred from kindergarten to primary schools through the electronic registration system of the Ministry of National Education in Turkey. Primary education in Turkey is 4 years, starting from grade one and ending in grade four. According to Turkish law, the age for starting education at this stage is 5 and a half- six years. It is compulsory and free and is applied to all citizens of the country and foreigners.

During this stage, children learn the principles of basic sciences, master reading and writing, in Turkish. They start to study English as a second language from grade two. They also study social sciences, mathematics, religious culture and moral knowledge. 

Middle schools (preparatory):

Transition to middle school is the same mechanism as primary schools; through the electronic registration system. Preparatory education starts from grade 5 and ends in grade 9, it continues for 4 years as well. The purpose of preparatory  schools is to provide training on vocational or soft skills, so students have the freedom to choose some courses depending on their wishes and preferences. Yet, there are some compulsory courses such as language, mathematics, social and technical sciences. 

Secondary schools (high schools):

At the end of grade eight, students must sit for an entrance examination for secondary school. The points obtained in the exam determine which secondary school the child will be able to attend. In general, secondary school starts from grade ten and ends in grade twelve, it continues for 4 years as well. However, the secondary education stage in Turkey is divided into several types, which are often determined by the student's desire:

Vocational High Schools (Meslek Lisesi):

There are many specialtizations in vocational high schools in Turkey, where students can study many arts and sciences such as media, health, tourism, art, hotel management and various technologies. Usually enrollment in vocational high schools in Turkey does not require a high average, nor does it require entry into public exams; any student can enroll in these schools. Moreover, students who study in vocational high schools are able to attend all cultural and vocational courses organized by the ministry of education and get knowledge in the best possible methods. 

One of the most important benefits of studying in Turkey through vocational high schools is to enhance self-confidence of students who receive their education in such schools by choosing their profession at an early age, especially since upon graduation from this secondary school, students obtain a diploma and a certificate of opening a business in the field and branch they study. Some outstanding students in vocational high schools in Turkey can enter Turkish universities according to each major.

Anatolian High Schools (Anadolu Lisesi):

Anatolian high school is one of the most prominent types of secondary schools that provides education in Turkey. The aim of establishing these schools is to raise the level of outstanding students and show great success in university entrance exams. Anatolian schools are training centers for students in various curricula that last for four years. Some schools add a preparatory year for students, so that the study years become five years. Students of Anatolian  High Schools usually achieve great success in the YKS university exams, as they are supposed to have great and distinguished academic abilities in various fields.

Imams and Preachers High Schools (İmam Hatip Lisesi):

Graduates of İmam Hatip high schools in Turkey apply for the positions of muezzin and imam or teachers in Quran memorization institutes. This type of schools in Turkey consist of intermediate and secondary stages, and they are official schools that provide religious and moral education, in addition to the basic subjects that are found in secondary and preparatory public schools. They have been supervised by the Ministry of National Education since November 2019.

Fine Arts High Schools (Güzel Sanatlar Lisesi):

Students who graduate from Fine Arts High Schools in Turkey can become artists, teachers, and art consultants according to their fields. They can also work in many fields such as architecture, graphic design, industrial product design, and fashion design. Before entering the fine arts high schools in Turkey, students undergo a special ability test in some training centers to ensure their potential. The study years are 4 years in general, and students get the opportunity to enroll in the faculties of fine arts in public universities.

 

University education and higher education in Turkey

After completing secondary education, students move to study in universities or institutes. Turkish institutes and universities have occupied an advanced position in the world for many reasons including the Turkish government's interest and effort to the education system and the budget allocated to it compared with many other countries which resulted in high standards of scientific research and educational quality in addition to developed and advanced infrastructure of universities. The Turkish Republic is the first European country that receives the largest number of students from all over the world. Its universities receive about 60,000 different academic programs in 207 universities, with many different languages like English, French, Arabic or German. 

Foreign students who wish to enroll in graduate and postgraduate programs at Turkish education institutions can apply directly to universities. They must have completed their secondary education in a high school equivalent to a Turkish lycee, confirmed by the Turkish embassy in their country, and apply for a student visa. They must also pass the postgraduate admission test such as: (GRE, GMAT, SAT) required by each institution and recognized by the respective university board. 

Diploma (Ön Lisans):

The duration of study in Turkish institutes is two years, yet, there is a preparatory year for some departments. It is usually provided by an educational system of 4 semesters, while courses are usually offered in vocational schools and university buildings. It should be noted that some vocational or technical high schools allow their students study seats in institutes and universities and to move to study in their departments without exams. Diploma disciplines are different and varied, students can enroll in many fields including medicine, engineering, tourism, Sharia, languages, literature, technological techniques, designing, secretarial work, and many other disciplines that are taught for only two years.

Bachelor's (Lisans):

Mainly after finishing high school, having a Bachelor degree is the choice for most of the students. In Turkey, students move to study at the university after passing the YKS exam. They can choose different university majors according to the general total in the aforementioned exam. The duration of study for bachelor's degree in Turkish universities is 4 years in general, except for engineering which lasts for 5 years, and some medical colleges are 6 years.

Master's (Yüksek Lisans):

Students who finish their undergraduate studies can apply for master's studies after graduation. Master's can be obtained in many literary, scientific, engineering and medical disciplines within only two years. In the first year, which consists of two semesters, students must succeed in some theoretical courses and submit research seminars, then move on to the thesis writing stage, which constitutes a critical point in graduating from a master's degree. However, there are some majors in the master's degree that offer non-thesis options.

PhD (Doktora):

The duration of study for the PhD in Turkish universities is 6 years. It consists of theoretical courses, research seminars, a comprehensive examination, and a thesis. Theoretical courses are available in the first and second semesters only, then students continue writing research seminars in the third semester, and continue in the fourth semester by passing a comprehensive exam, in which success is a prerequisite for moving on to writing the thesis. Writing the thesis and discussing it successfully before the academic committee that consists of 5 members of the academic faculty qualifies students to obtain a PhD, thus putting the final point in the educational life of students in universities. 

 

What are the advantages of the education system in Turkey?

Turkey ranks second globally in terms of enrollment in higher education, with an education rate of %94.2. As a result, a certificate from a Turkish institution is recognized throughout Europe. According to European standards, ECTS is used as the credit system for the courses. Turkey is also one of the most successful participants in the Erasmus exchange programme, in addition to other exchange programs that promote student and faculty exchange, such as Mevlana and Farabi. 

Advantages of Turkish education system:

  • High-quality education: Turkish universities compete with universities around the world in terms of high-quality education. They provide excellent and competitive facilities for students to enjoy their studies. The institutions’ bilingual education system also includes Turkish and international academics and instructors, providing students with a variety of perspectives and experiences.
  • Cost of living: Turkey provides international students with a high quality of life at an affordable cost of living compared to Europe. To make life easier for students, the Turkish government offers discounts on transportation, museums admissions, movie tickets, and a variety of other activities for them. 
  • Strategic location: Turkey has a strategic location from which one can quickly move to any destination of their choice, as it is located in the middle of 3 continents. Students can also explore job and internship opportunities. This makes it easy to look for alternatives both in the east and west when you graduate from university.
  • Diversity in universities and programs: there are 207 universities in Turkey while the number of students in the country is estimated to be over 8 million. Turkey is the first country in terms of student population, where more than 60,000 distinct programs are available at 207 institutions. 
  • Multicultural country: international students will not feel lonely while studying in Turkey as a  result of the integration of cultures in which one may learn about diverse civilizations, broaden one's horizons and form lifelong bonds.
  • Tourist destination: if you are a student who loves to try new things, travel and adventures, then Turkey is an amazing country to visit because there are a variety of tourist attractions that you can visit and would fit your student budget.
  • Student housing: most Turkish institutions can provide different types of accommodation. Each institution is responsible for its own student housing. Another housing option, especially in big cities, is renting apartments and houses and sharing them with other students. Students can live on campus, whose costs vary depending on the style of room and the number of people in it.
  • The Turkish government Scholarship: it is offered by the Turkish government to foreign students from all over the world, and it is one of the most popular scholarship programs around the world, as it includes almost all disciplines and all levels of study; bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Worthed to be mentioned it offers at least 4,000 scholarships annually.
  • Foreign languages: Although there is a widespread misconception that students should study in Turkish, many Turkish institutions provide education in English and provide an English-medium atmosphere for foreign students in a bilingual education system in addition to other languages like Arabic, German, Russian and French. 

 

Students accommodation in Turkey:

Studying in Turkey has become a dream for many young people. Thus, it has become necessary to search for student housing with good services that suit the budget of each student. There are different forms of student accommodation in Turkey, each offering different services. They can be classified as follows:

Government university housing (KYK): it is a student residence sponsored by the Turkish government and managed by the KYK Foundation of the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports. Government student housing costs between $30 and $40 per month, making it affordable for all students. There are summer classes and student activities are held in some government houses throughout the year. Government student housing has many features including:

  • Meals are served at low prices in all government student housing.
  • There is a free internet connection.
  • Free cleaning and laundry service.
  • Students receive psychosocial assistance from specialists.

Waqf student housing: They are student residences that are supervised by the Turkish Religious Endowment (Waqf) or one of the charities or affiliated organizations in Turkey. They secure university housing for students regardless of their nationality, race or culture, most of the time for free. They have restricted laws that students must abide by. Religious seminars and courses are held within the dorm, and students are free to attend them. These residences are only found in 3 Turkish states: Istanbul, Antalya and Izmir.

Private student housing: this type of student housing is established by private companies and investors for the goal of investing, therefore the management of these houses is for them. Moreover, its costs are more expensive than government housing, but the advantages offered in return make it reasonable, as students have greater privacy and independence. Some private universities can have a share of these units by investing in them because of their closeness to them. However, private housing has the following advantages:

  • living alone in single rooms.
  • Student meals.
  • Open Internet Service.
  • Laundry service.
  • Housekeeping.
  • 24 hour security.
  • Study rooms.
  • Gyms.
  • Private housing for females and private housing for males.
  • Health services.

Noting that these services increase and decrease according to the companies supervising the project.

Shared student housing: When foreign students have no chance of obtaining an opportunity to live in government university housing, Wakf housing, or private housing, they choose living in one of the apartments in which there are students who share the rental costs of the apartment. Most of these apartments are furnished, and they are at varying prices according to their size, closeness to the university, and the state in which they are located. 

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