Education in Turkey

Education in Turkey is governed by a national system which was established in accordance with the Atatürk Reforms after the Turkish War of Independence. It is a state-supervised system designed to produce a skillful professional class for the social and economic institutes of the nation

The Ministry of National Education is responsible for pre-tertiary education. This is compulsory and lasts twelve years: four years each of primary school, middle school and high school.[ Less than half of 25- to 34-year-old Turks have completed at least high school, compared with an OECD average of over 80 percent. Basic education in Turkey is considered to lag behind other OECD countries, with significant differences between high and low performers. Turkey is ranked 32nd out of 34 in the OECD’s PISA study. Access to high-quality school heavily depends on the performance in the secondary school entrance exams, to the point that some students begin taking private tutoring classes when they are 10 years old. The overall adult literacy rate in 2011 was 94.1 percent; 97.9 percent for males and 90.3 percent for females.

As of 2017, there are 190 universities in Turkey. Entry to higher education depends on the Student Selection and Placement System (ÖSYS). In 2008, the quota of admitted students was 600,000, compared to 1,700,000 who took the higher education exam in 2007. Except for the Open Education Faculties (AÖF) at Anadolu, Istanbul and Atatürk University; entrance is regulated by the national ÖSYS examination, after which high school graduates are assigned to universities according to their performance. According to the 2012–2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the top university in Turkey is Middle East Technical University (in the 201–225 rank range), followed by Bilkent University and Koç University (both in the 226–250 range), Istanbul Technical University and Boğaziçi University (in the 276–300 bracket). All state and private universities are under the control of the Higher Education Board (YÖK), whose head is appointed by the President of Turkey; executive order 676 of October 2016 has created a system where in addition the President directly appoints all rectors of all state and private universities. Turkey is a member of the European Higher Education Area and actively participates in the Bologna Process.

In 2016 the Skills Matter survey conducted by OECD found the levels of numeracy and literacy in the adult population of Turkey at rank 30 of the 33 OECD countries surveyed.

In 2017 the theory of evolution was removed from the national curriculum in favour of teaching on the concept of jihad.

Employment Opportunities

International students, unfortunately, have no legal right to work either in public or private offices.

Working While Studying

International students, unfortunately, have no legal right to work either in public or private offices. However, Turkish universities are relatively open to foreign researchers. Both public and private universities recruit non-Turkish staff. Among universities with a clear international profile are the universities of Bogazici (Istanbul) and the Middle East Technical University  (Ankara), which are both public. Among private universities are those of Sabanci, Koc  and Bilgi  (all in Istanbul) and Bilkent  (Ankara).

Language is not only major obstacle to get a temporary job. There are universities and departments within universities whose language of instruction is English or where English is the most common language. Some private universities were established as English-speaking universities, and they are now trying to compete with public universities to attract top international academic staff and researchers. There are also research institutions which provide teaching in French and German.

In addition, most foundation universities recruit Master’s and PhD level students on a full scholarship scheme. Sometimes full scholarships might require international students assisting some professors on certain tasks such as teaching, doing research or preparing statistics etc.  In all these cases, there is no requirement on international academics or students to learn and teach in Turkish.

Working After Studying

If you want to work in Turkey after studying, there are not as many options as you might hope, especially if you don’t speak Turkish, and many of them pay very poorly, comparing to the EU countries, Canada or the USA. However there might be surprising opportunities present in the Turkish market. So you can’t know them exist before searching for it. 

The first thing to do is to search your job prospects on internet. You should have a very well prepared resume that could tell anything about you even if you are not physically there.  Many Turkish companies speak English, some speak German, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Russian etc. You definitely hear from them with an invitation for an interview.  

Some of the best paid and most professional works in Turkey are in the various embassies, consulates and non-governmental organisations. But the competition is always intense.

One possibility is to teach your native language at a language school or on a private tuition. There is a great hunger for English language teaching in Turkey which means that this sort of work is easy to find. However, the best paid jobs with the best conditions go to people with a degree and proper TESOL, TEFL, CELTA or PGCE qualifications. The best thing to do is to take a relevant course. 

There are some large international companies or press agencies that need a foreigner in one of their branches located throughout Turkey. Some manage to find work on the New Anatolian, the Turkish Daily News, Zaman or other publications published in foreign languages. There are occasional vacancies for journalists, editors, copy editors or proofreaders. 

If you are looking for casual work, you could try the notice boards at some spots. For anything more serious, please try the noticeboards at some language schools or universities. It’s also worth looking in the classified ads of expat magazines.  Other possibilities lie in tourism where there are usually plenty of casual summer jobs. However, foreigners who are working in tourism have to cope with a far longer working week: in effect all day every day at the height of the season. For women one of the best paid options is to take up a post as a nanny to a wealthy family in one of the big cities.  

Work Permits (Calisma Izni)

If you find a job while in Turkey you may have to leave the country to apply for a work permit and then come back in again. 

The law concerning work permits now has a reciprocity clause in it. This means that if a Turkish citizen can work in your country without a work permit, then you can work in Turkey without one. For the time being, this is unlikely to be of much benefit to most Westerners. However, if Turkey does eventually join the EU, then it could mean most Europeans being able to work here without a permit. 

Employment in Turkey is mainly governed by Turkish Labor Law and Trade Union Law. Working permits are granted by The Ministry of Labour. After finding a job at a Turkish company, the company should apply for the working permit on behalf of the foreigner. There is no guarantee that the Ministry will definitely provide the foreigner with a working permit. 

In the meantime most work permits are issued initially for one year. When they are extended, the new permit is usually for three years, and then for six years. If you have been a resident of Turkey for eight years and have had a work permit for six of them, you should then be able to get a permanent work permit.

Useful Links:

     • The Ministry of Labour and Social Security: www.csgb.gov.tr (In Turkish)
     • Turkey’s Official Employment Institute: www.iskur.gov.tr
     • Turkish-British Chamber of Commerce & Industry: www.tbcci.org 
     • Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry: www.dtr-ihk.de
     • Monster Online Job Search: www.monster.com.tr
     • My Merhaba Expat Networking: www.mymerhaba.com
     • About Teaching English in Turkey: www.eslcafe.com
     • Teacher Placement Agency: www.angelfire.com/biz/turkeng
     • Kariyer.Net Employer Database: www.kariyer.net (most jobs are listed in English)
     • Yenibiris.Com Online Job Search:www.yenibiris.com (some jobs are given in English)
     • SecretCv.Com Online Job Search: www.secretcv.com
     • Craiglist’s Classified Ads, Istanbul section: www.istanbul.craigslist.com.tr
     • Anglo-Nannies: www.anglonannies.com
     • Great Au Pair: www.greataupair.com
     • For jobs in Istanbul: http://www.turkeyjobs77.com/q-istanbul-jobs
     • Live with a Family in Istanbul and Teach Them English: www.goabroad.com/providers/geovisions/programs/live-with-a-family-in-istanbul-and-teach-them-english-59987
     • Jobs page for vacancies in Turkey: http://www.tiptopjob.com/search/jobs_by_location/c/tur_turkey

Libraries

Turkey has modern university library facilites. Although all Turkish universities have libraries on their campuses with multimedia facilities, many of the books are presently only available in Turkish.

 There are a few university libraries such as METU (Middle East Technical University), Hacettepe University, Bilkent University in Ankara and Bogazici University, ITU (Istanbul Technical University) and Sabanci University in Istanbul whose books and materials are predominantly in English. All universities in Turkey have computer labs with free wireless internet connection.

University libraries are the backbone supporting degree programs, research and teaching. An impressive collection of books, periodicals, e-books, e-journals, academic Internet resources, music scores and other printed material are available in most libraries. Extensive audio-visual and sound recording collections are also available at your disposal. Libraries offer essential and supplementary resources for students in all academic disciplines. In addition, libraries commonly offer a comprehensive range of cultural resources.

Some libraries provide online access to digital materials. Electronic reserves are available online to students 24 hours a day, even when the library is closed. Virtual libraries contain hundreds of thousands of electronic books, electronic journals, electronic databases and encyclopedias. Access to these resources is available over the internet, on-campus and/or off-campus.

Apart from university libraries, Turkey has a very comprehensive national library called Milli Kutuphane. This large-scale library located in Ankara hosts millions of books and different sources of media. The National Library of Turkey has just signed a protocol agreement with Europeana, the European Union Digital Library, to join the common system used by European Union libraries. Researchers in EU countries will greatly benefit from having online access to the 2 million items held by Milli Kutuphane.

Useful links:

     • Europeana Online Library: www.europeana.eu
     • National Library of Turkey: www.mkutup.gov.tr/index.php?yenidil=ing
     • Bilkent University’s Online Library: library.bilkent.edu.tr
     • Middle East Technical University’s Online Library: ww2.lib.metu.edu.tr/en/index.php
     • Bahcesehir University’s Online Library: http://www.bahcesehir.edu.tr/english/Kutuphane
     • Hacettepe University’s Online Library: www.library.hacettepe.edu.tr/index.php?kid=10&dil=en
     • Bogazici University’s Online Library: http://www.library.boun.edu.tr
     • Istanbul Technical University’s Online Library: www.library.itu.edu.tr
     • Marmara University’s Online Library: www.library.marmara.edu.tr
     • Sabanci University’s Online Library: www.sabanciuniv.edu/bm/information
     • Anadolu University’s Online Library: kybele.anadolu.edu.tr/kybele.aspx?IS=GORUNUM&DL=EN
     • Izmir University of Economics Online Library: kutuphane.ieu.edu.tr/en
     • TED Ankara College Online Library: tara.tedankara.k12.tr/bliss
 

Internships

Many university programs have an internship requirement to be fulfilled either during a summer term or winter break.

Compulsory Internships

Many university programs have an internship requirement to be fulfilled either during a summer term or winter break. Compulsory internships are increasingly being added as part of the curriculum for many programs. Therefore, universities and colleges actively seek closer ties with leading businesses and firms across sectors to help facilitate their students’ internship placement. The academic requirements of the student and needs of the company are factored when assigning an internship. Although the internship itself usually lasts 2 months, the process of internship placement can sometimes take up to six months. 

During the internship, students participate in the day-to-day operations and work projects of the company or factory and have the task of finding solutions for problems they confront. Students thus gain valuable insights into specific operations of a company, its structure and the general business climate. At the end of the internship, students submit project reports to the faculty and share experiences with professors and students. 

Some foundation universities have created an internship office, specifically dedicated to helping place students in internships. These offices contact various companies to learn about their internship needs and reach agreements with international institutions.

Optional Practical Experience

In today’s world, companies require a highly skilled workforce able to meet new demands stemming from advances in technology and shifts in economic and market conditions. As a result, new graduates often have difficulties in securing employment directly after graduation. In order to increase their employability, a growing number of students search for internships on their own initiative. Such students understand that they must start developing their academic and personal skills from the very first day of their studies to remain competitive. Luckily, talented students are always a welcomed sight in the intern offices of many companies.

Useful Links:

   •  Internships at National Agency of Turkey (Ulusal Ajans) : www.ua.gov.tr//index.cfm?action=detay&yayinID=87643E34CD26C4CF9CDFC6531B706330BEBCE&dil=EN
   •  AIESEC Student Club and Internships : www.aiesec.org.tr
   •  Internships at PriceWaterHouseCoopers : www.pwc.com/tr/en
   •  Internships at UN : www.un.org.tr/index.php?LNG=2&ID=91
   •  Internships at UNFPA : www.unfpa.org/employment/internship.htm
   •  Internships at UNDP : www.undp.org.tr/Gozlem2.aspx?WebSayfaNo=6
   •  Export.Gov Helping US Companies Export : www.export.gov/turkey/internshipopportunities/index.asp
   •  International TEFL Academy : www.internationalteflacademy.com
   •  International Volunteer Internships : www.leapnow.org

Student Visa

Obtaining a student visa before departing your home country is a requirement for formal registration as a student at a Turkish university. Therefore, students who come to Turkey without a student visa will neither be allowed to register as a student at the university nor receive a residency permit once in the country.

Student visas must be obtained from a Turkish consulate, generally the one nearest your place of residence in the country of your nationality. Student visas CANNOT be issued from within Turkey. You must take or mail a copy of your “Letter of Acceptance” from a Turkish university and a completed visa application form to the appropiate Turkish Consulate. Consulate staff can provide you with an application form upon request. Please note that it generally takes around eight weeks from the time you submit your application until you receive your visa. The student visa will be stamped in your passport.

Although a time limit will be indicated on your visa, your student visa remains valid as long as you are enrolled at school.

Note that rules seem to change regularly, so see www.e-konsolosluk.net and the Turkish Embassy or Consulate in your home country for the latest information about visa requirements.