Scholarships attracting African students to Turkey

The number of African students studying in colleges and universities in Turkey has risen significantly over the past few years.

The numbers have grown to over 60,000 up from around 40,000 since 2019, thanks largely to scholarships by the Turkish government, and are bound to grow even higher in the future as the country intensifies its engagement with Africa.

During a December 2021 summit with African heads of state, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan disclosed that Turkey had awarded 14,000 scholarships to African students, and had trained close to 250 African diplomats.

The country’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has revealed, saying that increased scholarship grants has been a result of his country’s policy of using education as a key element of cooperation with the continent. The country views education as “the most important area” for cooperation with the continent the minister says, and will continue to devote its energy and resources in growing the relations, and that Turkey had become an “African hub with a growing African diaspora of students and businesspeople” over the past 20 years.

The number of international students enrolled in Turkish universities has seen a huge growth in the recent past, hitting 260,000 in 2022 up from 224,000 in 2021, and up from a mere 32,000 a decade ago in 2012.

According to an analysis by Study in Turkey published in 2019, countries sending the most students to Turkey included Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Germany.

Other top five source countries for international students in Turkey in 2020/21 were Turkmenistan with 19,384; Iraq 14,799; and Iran 11,223, according to YÖK.

In Africa, Egypt led with 5,821 students followed by Nigeria, which had 3,174 students in Turkish universities.