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Education in Turkey: How Can Foreign Students Get It?

10/03/2021 Education in Turkey: How Can Foreign Students Get It?

Turkey is an excellent option for experiencing a new culture while remaining close to the East and the West. Aside from the right blend of European and Oriental influences, Turkey has a growing academic reputation, with prestigious schools offering competitive education. Among OECD countries, Turkey has one of the most centralized education systems.

Together with its well-established schooling system, Turkey's education is a desirable option for international students. How can international students get an education in Turkey, though? Well, let us first take a look at various grades of schools in Turkish education.

We will look at how you can get your education in Turkey, including options for free education.

Turkish Education System

Every Turkish citizen has a right to education according to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. Primary education in public schools offers free education in Turkey except in foreign institutions, as 10% of the general budget is allocated to national education.

All students are taught the mother tongue Turkish, and in 2012, 12 years of schooling divided into 4+4+4 education years were made compulsory for both boys and girls.

The Ministry of National Education runs the educational administration of Turkey; they draw up the curriculum and are responsible for coordinating the work of official, private, and voluntary organizations. They also are responsible for building schools, developing educational materials, and so on.

The curriculum is finalized by The Supreme Council of National Education, and prepared by the Ministry. Educational affairs in the provinces are organized by the Directorates of National Education, working under the provincial governor's direction.

Turkey is the world's 2nd country providing higher education, with a 94.2% schooling rate. Since ECTS is used in Europe and all students receive a Diploma Supplement, every European country accepts the diploma you receive from Turkish universities. Turkey participates in many exchange programs like Erasmus, Mevlana, Farabi, and more, supporting the mobility of students and lecturers.

The academic calendar begins in September, and ending in May-June, with several variations between the rural and urban areas. The school days are Monday to Friday, usually having afternoon and morning sessions, but there are split sessions if overcrowded. Students get a 2-week winter break between January and February, and Universities organize the sessions in 2 semesters, Fall and Spring.

Kindergarten Education in Turkey

Kindergarten education in Turkey is pre-primary education, usually in the larger towns and cities, and is optional for children of 3 to 5 years of age as they are underage for compulsory primary education.

Kindergarten education in Turkey is pre-primary education, usually in the larger towns and cities, is optional for children of 3 to 5 years of age as they are underage for compulsory primary education.

Elementary School Education in Turkey

After completing kindergarten, children must begin elementary school at the age of five. Their school registration takes place in schools close to their home, and most elementary school children wear uniforms to avoid class differences.

Elementary School Education in Turkey

Children learn essential reading and writing skills; after they have learned these skills, they are taught lessons such as Turkish, Mathematics, and Social Studies. As the students progress, they are assigned more subjects and new classes.

Middle School Education in Turkey

After completing four years of elementary education, the next compulsory thing is to get four years of middle school education, and there are private and public schools in Turkey.

Children are given detailed lessons of the ones that are taught in elementary schools. In middle schools, foreign language lessons start from grade 4th, and if the students fail the exams, they have to repeat their class, and those who pass go on to high school for another four years. The purpose of middle school education is to ensure that all students acquire the fundamental knowledge, skills, behaviors, and habits required to be an ideal citizens.

High School Education in Turkey

After four years of middle school education, children continue to four years of high school education in public or private high schools. The student gets lessons in the subjects of their preference, and most private and public high schools offer foreign language courses. 

They aim to raise awareness to contribute to the socio-economic and cultural development of the country and prepare the students for higher education life. Public high schools provide free education in Turkey to assure equal educational opportunities to everyone so that no one is left behind because of financial reasons.

There are seven types of high schools in Turkey: 

  1. Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School

  2. Anatolian High School

  3. Evening High School

  4. Social science High School

  5. Fine Arts High School

  6. Religious Vocational High School

  7. Science High School

  8. Sports High School

College Education in Turkey

Following Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's principles, Turkish universities are republican institutions, universities, facilities, and institutions of 4-year higher education schools are founded by law. Universities are regularly accredited by the Council of Higher Education, a completely autonomous national board of trustees with no political or government interference. In recent years, total enrollments in Turkey's tertiary education system have more than doubled.

There are two types of education programs; an Associate's Degree, which takes up to 2 years, and a bachelor's degree, which is for four years. After completion of these degrees, a student can continue their education through post-graduate and doctorate degrees.

Higher education institutions have rectors, deans, and administrative boards. Public universities provide free education in Turkey. The language of instruction is Turkish, and some universities also use English, French, and German. 

Getting Education in Turkey as an International Student

Foreigners wishing to study in Turkey should be aware of some valuable information published by the Ministry of National Education; foreigners can enroll in colleges and universities if they have a diploma or certificate of education proving their accreditation.

International students, on the other hand, do not have documents proving their accreditation. In that case, they will be asked to give an oral or written interview accordingly.  After the accreditation is clarified, the students will be enrolled, and Turkish lessons will be arranged to help them learn the Turkish language.

A few documents are necessary to get an education in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, or college in Turkey, such as a passport, study visa, and residence permit valid for at least six months.

Turkey has an e-school system where students' education information, details, classes, exams, and grades are shared with the parents, and even international students' data is uploaded into the system. Their parents can also access these details.

College Exams for Foreign Students

International students wanting to start their college in Turkey are required to take the Foreign Students Exam (YOS) with a validity of 2 years; The students take this exam in the college they want to in and start their bachelor's according to the exam grade. 


Information and details about the exam are given on the university website. The test takes place in two languages, English and Turkish. There are two sets of questions prepared; one is the Basic Learning Skills Test, and the other is Turkish. The basic skills test questions consist of Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Maths, History, and Geography subjects, and in the Turkish test foreigner's level of Turkish language is tested.

Foreigners who enroll in universities that give English education don't require taking the Turkish test but are obliged to take the English test to determine their English proficiency. If the candidate fails the test, their education will begin with an additional preparatory year.

Paid and Free Education in Turkey

Turkey offers international students many educational options: State-owned public schools provide free education in Turkey, and well-respected private schools offer paid education. Furthermore, international students getting an education in Turkey can work and live in Turkey with student residency permission and under some conditions. Most Turkish colleges have a multilingual and multicultural environment that makes it an ideal experience for international students to study in Turkey.

Getting an apartment in Turkey for a student is reasonably hassle-free. Since international students in Turkey can work without problems and have access to free education, it is very accessible for all walks of life. Many students worldwide are enjoying a hassle-free education in Turkey, and you can be the next.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best university in Turkey for an international student?

Bogazici University, Middle East Technical University, Bilkent University, Istanbul University, Koc University, Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul Technical University, and Hacettepe University are considered the best options for international students.

2. How long is a school day in Turkey?

The school week lasts 35 to 40 hours and extends from Monday to Friday. The school day typically begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes by 4:30 p.m. It is broken up by a lunch break that lasts from 12:00 to 13:00.

3. Is education free in Turkey for international students?

Primary and secondary education is financed by the state and free of charge in government schools. The most frequent way to study for free for international students in Turkey is to get scholarships from Turkish universities.

4. Is Turkey expensive for students?

In terms of economics, it's a great destination, especially compared to the expense of living in the UK and the US. However, if the students intend to fly to Turkey for studies, they should have enough funds on hand.

5. Do Turkish schools have uniforms?

School uniform obligations were formally abolished on November 27, 2012, when the Turkish Ministry of Education removed the nationwide uniform requirement in schools. 

6. What are the benefits of studying in Turkey?

Studying in Turkey allows you to obtain a degree from the world's second-fastest expanding economy. Many universities in Turkey accept international students and offer English as a teaching language.

7. How long is summer break in Turkey?

It is for three months.

8. Which city is best for international students in Turkey?

Istanbul is one of the top student cities in the world, not only in Turkey.

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