Industry Talks | Türkiye Q2 2024

Students’ preferences, parents’ concerns, and tips for international educators keen to engage with the country: as our Recruitment Solutions team leads trade missions around the world, we meet up with agents to ask all the important questions. Come along and explore another source country with us!

June, 2024

Students’ preferences, parents’ concerns, and tips for international educators keen to engage with the country: as our Recruitment Solutions team leads trade missions around the world, we meet up with agents to ask all the important questions. Come along and explore another source country with us!

Safety, quality, affordability, and sunshine: these are among the top priorities for Turkish families sending their children to study abroad. As demand for junior programmes increases, families are on the hunt for high-quality and affordable institutions – and Canada seems to be the most popular destination.

We spoke to five education agents who participated in the trade mission to Türkiye run by the International Public School Education Association of British Columbia and BONARD Education. Here are the thoughts they shared with us.

More juniors abroad

In line with global trends, it is becoming increasingly common for teenagers from Türkiye to study abroad.

Mr Fatih Karababa, Director of Edurefer International Education Consultancy, told BONARD Education that demand for high school programmes has been growing rapidly: “In the past, maybe I would send one or two students per year to high school programmes abroad, but since the pandemic, the number of high school students has been getting higher.”

One of the factors fuelling demand is the rising price of education in Türkiye, as Ms Sinem Kizrak, Regional Manager at Atlas Private Educational Services, told BONARD Education:

“We have observed an increase in demand for junior programmes. Our local institutions are getting more and more expensive. Because of the dramatic increase in price, the demand for international education is increasing.”

Junior students are also opting to stay abroad for longer, according to Mr Andaç Baran Cezayirlioglu, Managing Director at OVYGO: “Previously, students wanted to go abroad for one year, but now we observe that they go abroad to finish high school.”

Destinations in demand

Among the traditional destinations, Canada seems set to benefit most from the increasing popularity of high school programmes abroad among Turkish students.

Kizrak told BONARD Education that “Canada is getting more and more popular, with its education standards, prestigious universities, liveable cities, and safe environment.”

Other destinations, such as the UK and Switzerland, are still very popular thanks to the reputation of their institutions and geographical proximity, but they are becoming too expensive for Turkish families.

“Because of high inflation and currency rates, countries like the UK and Switzerland are becoming less accessible. Those are the main barriers for students to go to those countries,” Kizrak explained.

“Of course, they are still popular. But parents are looking for different alternatives, specifically with more affordable options. Canada can meet these needs.”

For Cezayirlioglu, the UK is still a growing market for high school students because of the smooth transition to university.

“The transition to university after graduation in the UK is a little bit easier to understand for parents and students, because there is a central application system, and that’s more or less the same system as in Türkiye. So we can see that parents are asking for the UK as well, because it’s convenient,” he told us.

What about the policy changes in Canada?

Agents are confident that the policy changes in Canada won’t impact their business negatively. If anything, they are observing a positive influence on the junior market. According to Cezayirlioglu, “the recent immigration changes in Canada have significantly affected our business in a positive way, since the process is much smoother for K–12 programmes.”

Mrs Tugba Tekmen, K–12 Program Placement Coordinator at CDS Study Abroad, believes that the policy changes may initially only impact middle school students who wish to travel with their parents. But, as she pointed out, “for high school and higher education students, that won’t be a problem.”

A warm welcome

We always ask our respondents to tell us about their clients’ main questions and concerns about study abroad programmes.

The top concern for the parents of junior students is always the same: safety. Distance and time difference can also be issues for some families, agents reported, especially for younger students. Cost and education standards are other key factors.

Ms Sinem Kizrak explained that “the main concern is safety and security, and then, of course, the education standards, graduation grades, and university destinations. Cost, including living cost, is also important.”

Host families are another area of focus for parents.

“The first question is ‘Is it safe to stay in a homestay?’,” Tekmentold us.

However, she adds that host families are the most popular choice and a key accommodation option for students from Türkiye: “For us, host families don’t just mean a place to sleep; they mean spending time together. They are really important for our market.”

Beyond safety, cost, and education standards, there is another key element driving students’ and their families’ decisions: the weather.

“Climate and warmth are important. Students and parents seek a warm climate,” Cezayirlioglu said.

Agents agreed that some parts of British Columbia are the go-to destination for students looking for sunshine.

According toTekmen, “the climate makes a difference: some parts of British Columbia are the best destinations because they are warm, and students can enjoy their free time outside.”

A price-sensitive market

Despite rising demand, Türkiye has become more price-sensitive, Tekmen explained that “scholarships make a difference.”

“Because of the currency exchange rate, in the last two years, parents have started to ask about scholarships. They didn’t use to ask about them as much before. If a board gives any kind of scholarship, even partial, that makes a difference, too.”

Ms Sinem Kizrak agreed, observing that “scholarships are really important not only for the financial side: having a scholarship is really prestigious, it’s considered an achievement.”

Popular programmes

One of the distinguishing features of the Turkish market, according to Kizrak, is that it is very diverse: “It’s not only science or business-focused.”

Popular subject areas mentioned by the agents interviewed by BONARD Education included STEM, arts programmes, robotics, and sports.

In terms of curriculum, international qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement are “huge trends,” according to Cezayirlioglu, because they allow students to continue their education abroad in a number of destinations:

“When we check the district, the first thing that we take a look at is whether the district offers AP or IB, since most of our students who wish to finish their education abroad would continue their university education in the US, Canada, UK, Europe, so IB and AP are quite important in that regard.”

Watch the full video here:

BONARD coordinated a trade mission with the International Public School Association of British Columbia, visiting Kazakhstan and Türkiye in June 2024.

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