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‘Turkish versities jostle for int’l rankings to attract Nigerian students’

What is the relationship between Worldwide Integrated Network and Education with Istanbul Education Consultancy, Turkey (IEC)?
Worldwide Integrated Network and Education was set up to recruit students from Nigeria to tertiary institutions in all countries of the world except Canada and to partner with Istanbul Education Consulting (IEC) to promote universities colleges all over the world. Turkey has come up as a country to be reckoned with in terms of education and so we partner with IEC so that they can come to Nigeria and recruit Nigerian students. IEC has been in the education industry since 1993. We’ve actually been sending Turkish students to study around the world and now we have a new mission to bring foreign students into Turkish universities because there are a lot of new things going on in Turkey, especially in university education.

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What is the ratings and qualities of tertiary institutions in Turkey and how affordable is the fee?
When we were sending Turkish students abroad to study, there were only state universities in Turkey, that was about 20 years ago. And of course, Turkey’s population was high for the existing universities at that time. Also, English was very important for doing business in the world. You know, our traditional way was to teach in Turkish. By the time we started in 1993, I saw a lot of progress on my country’s side and then government decided to establish more universities with new academic programmes that include English language. Now, 90 percent of universities are teaching in English and they give you options of studying in Turkish and English. In terms of rankings and fees, though we consider ourselves European, our prices are still lower than most  European countries. You cannot compare the British pound with Turkish lira. The government of Turkey automatically gives every foreign student 50per cent scholarship. For instance, if Turkish students are paying ten thousand dollar, Nigerian students will pay five thousand dollar because we want to attract more Nigerian and other foreign students. We are in the electronic era. Kids in the world over have mobile devices and access to the internet. Turkey is working very hard to get into America’s ranking list and it is trying to raise its academic standard to attract students. We are very much aware and interested in what popular subjects students are looking for in the future to make economic sense because they often ask for example, ‘after graduation can I work if I study History of Arts, can I find a job and all of that?’

For how long have you been recruiting students from Nigeria to Turkish institutions?
With Worldwide Integrated Education and Network, it’s been two years. We started the partnership almost a year ago and we decided to bring Nigerian students into Turkish universities because Turkey is a good place for Nigerian students to study, to live, to learn the culture, get work experience and create bigger and longer business relationships.  Based on this, we decided to hold  the first Turkish education fair in Nigeria and to reach out to Nigerians wishing to study in Turkey. The fair will hold in three zones on different dates. Lagos is scheduled for Saturday, 7th December at Protea Hotel Ikeja, Port Harcourt on Monday, December 9th at Juanital Hotel, Old GRA, Port Harcourt and in Abuja on 11th December 2013, at Immaculate Suites & Apartments, Wuse II. The idea is to offer a platform for prospective students to meet with the representatives from various universities in Turkey and to provide relevant information on admission processes as well as tell them about the opportunities in studying in Turkish universities which include up to 50per cent scholarship, students can work while studying and after, access globally recognised courses, outstanding international facilities, diverse culture, supportive learning environment, tourism and use of English as a medium of instruction.

Why is the fair coming to Nigeria at this time?
The fair is coming to Nigeria at this time because it is just starting in Turkey as well. We have for long sent Turkish students to America to study and we spend a lot of money on that. Our students studied there, learnt English and saw that Americans are doing very well on this area, and then they decided,  ‘why can’t we do it in Turkey’?

How many universities will participate in the fair?
We are bringing 14 universities to the Turkish education fair, five state universities and nine private universities.

What will you offer  prospective candidates at the fair?
The students should have a proper high school diploma, many of the universities are looking for WAEC certificate, some are talking 50 per cent success rates, some are looking for higher, depending on how difficult it is to get in but it has to be six credit basically, including Mathematics and English language. For other countries, students should take TOFEL but for Nigerians you don’t need to show this because the official language is English but they will look for written English, may be for top programmes like medicine and engineering. For MBA, many of them are looking for GMATH like all the American and Canadian institutions.

How do you ensure that the students are secured at all times in view of the security challenges around the world today?
There are many types of universities, some have campuses, some are in the cities but they have their own security systems. But relatively Turkey is very safe and secured. Of course, all over the world there are security issues but we are always behind our students and we also take care of them. Sometimes we help them arrange for accommodation or find for them if they don’t want to live in the university town. We can arrange their housing, we help them in whatever they need. We’ve even started to offer them private health insurance. The health system in Turkey is such that with a little amount you can get state health security service.

What are the attractions in Turkey that you think can actually make Nigeria students come to study in Turkey considering the issue of religion and adaptability?
First of all, we consider ourselves European and the location and geography of Turkey is excellent. It is not very far from Nigeria and not far from Europe, Russia and the Middle East. We are in the middle of everywhere. So, the geographical location is very good. It’s only six hours flight from Nigeria to Turkey and the other thing is the climate condition, we have four seasons of winter but not too long, it’s not freezing and I’m very sure many Nigerians feel comfortable with that. And then the historical position of Turkey. Turkey was a Christian capital before the Muslims and Uthomos took over, which is why Turkey has a lot of relationships with the Western world, the Christian  world and other religions. Because our republic founder changed the system of government  of Turkey, it became secular in 1923. Secular means yes we are a Muslim country but government and religion is separated. Istanbul is still the orthodox capital, but Greeks and Russians often come to Turkey to perform some religious rites.

Do you have a record of Turks who have actually come to study in Nigeria during your posting of Turkish students abroad before the shift in focus?
I know that about 500 Nigerians are already studying in Turkey, but I’m not sure of Turkish students in Nigeria. I however believe that with what we are doing, more Turkish people will come here to do businesses and when they do, they will bring their families, and the kids will study here.

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