Report: Turkey’s conflicts deter exchange students, foreign academics

İstanbul University's main gate in İstanbul's Beyazit Square.

The number of students visiting Turkish universities with the European Union’s (EU) Erasmus exchange programme dropped by half in three years, while the number of foreign academics working in Turkey dropped by five times in the last five years, the Turkish newspaper Dünya reported on Friday.

The travel warnings issued by the United States affected the students coming to Turkey the most, Aslıhan Özenç, an expert in student exchange programmes told Dünya.

According to a report by online news portal Ahval, “When a country is issued a ‘travel warning’, the insurance provided by the schools is no longer valid. The institutions are not allowed to send their own officials, nor do they send students because they cannot afford insurance,” Özenç said.

Accent International, a global company in foreign education, closed its İstanbul office, Dünya wrote. The number of European students visiting Turkish universities for one or two semesters peaked in 2014 at 7,948 students, but that number fell to 3,004 in the 2016-2017 academic year, the report said.

In 2013, the number of visiting foreign academics in Turkey was 2,890, but today there are only 554 foreign academics in Turkish institutions.

Özenç said that when foreign universities call their office, the first thing they ask about is the war.

“Even though we tell them that life goes on normally, they reply saying ‘we will come back when things are better’”, the expert told Dünya. “In the last two years, we have been losing cultural exchanges,” she said.

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