Prof. Dr. İrfan Gündüz, Chairperson of DEİK/Higher Education Business Council, answered our questions regarding education in Türkiye for Business Diplomacy.
1- The DEİK/Higher Education Business Council participated in the EAIA event organized by the European International Education Association in Barcelona this year through the ‘Study In Türkiye’ pavilion. What would be your comments about the importance of ‘Study In Türkiye’ works and Türkiye’s position in the fair?
First of all, I would like to thank you for raising this significant issue. As DEİK/Higher Education Business Council, we participated not only in the regular education fair of the European Association in Barcelona but also in NAFSA held in the USA.
We see that following the pandemic period, Türkiye has become a centre of attraction in the field of education, taking into account its image around the world. I think that the flow of students from abroad to our country will intensify in this process. As one of the most significant reasons for this, we state the superior performance of Türkiye during the pandemic period. The supply crisis that followed, the tension between Russia and Ukraine and the energy problems made the environment of trust offered by Türkiye critical. Many students from Europe, America, and Middle East countries want to study in Türkiye.
Considering this preference, we participated in the fairs held in Europe and the USA in the field of education through the “Study in Türkiye” pavilion. Nearly 30 of our universities both had the opportunity to introduce themselves and cooperated with other universities. As DEİK/Higher Education Business Council, we attach importance to the fairs held in the field of education and we are working to do more. On this issue, we paid a visit to Mehmet Muş, Minister of Trade, together with our DEİK Secretary General and YÖK President. During this visit, we expressed that Türkiye’s position is preferable, especially in terms of higher education and that education fairs organized under Türkiye’s initiative should be increased. We maintain our activities through the support of our Ministry and under the leadership of YÖK.
2- Our country currently hosts approximately 250 thousand international students. In this context, how would you elaborate on Türkiye’s opportunities for international students?
Students who study in our country and return to their countries play a significant role in the construction of the future “Türkiye”. Each of our students is an active stakeholder in the Türkiye lobby. Students studying in Türkiye learn the culture and language of this country and transfer them to their own countries. This actually strengthens the commercial ties we have with other countries. That is because students who have been educated in valuable universities of our country rise to significant places in their own countries and a feeling of gratitude arises from Türkiye’s culture and hospitality. They give priority to Turkish companies as they carry out their commercial activities.
3- Does the fact that Türkiye is an attractive country in terms of education creates a potential for business diplomacy? Could you tell us about the activities of DEİK/Higher Education Business Council in this area?
The main purpose of our Foreign Economic Relations Board is trade and diplomacy. You can call it a community economy if you want. In other words, to ensure the development of countries by establishing good relations from society to society. As the Higher Education Business Council, one of the issues we attach importance to is increasing the number of foreign students studying in Türkiye. Carrying out this process in a proper manner means that those students are also in a good position in their own countries. For this reason, we consider every student from abroad as our most significant guest.
4- Türkiye stands out around the world with its 209 universities and the highest number of students in the European higher education field. What are your comments on this situation?
The number of students studying at more than 200 universities in our country is 8 million. We can tell that it is more than the population of most countries. The measure of wealth in the world is neither natural gas nor oil. Wealth is educated human energy. There is no other energy that is so precious. Therefore, we see our young people studying as very critical in shaping our future. The youth of today are the future of tomorrow.
On the other hand, many countries around the world have students studying outside their own country. For example, in the United States, this number is around 1 million. There should be more in Türkiye As DEİK/Higher Education Business Council, our goal is to increase the number of foreign students studying in our country from 250 thousand to 500 thousand. Our infrastructure is suitable for this, so I believe that this success will come due to the high education standards of our universities.