Spotlight: Turkey

TurkishFlagTurkey is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Bordered by eight countries, Turkey is a major regional power and is becoming increasingly integrated with the West through its membership of NATO, the Council of Europe and the G-20.

Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership: it began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995.

Closer ties with the EU, which may or may not lead to membership, are driving educational redevelopment in many forms, including a qualification structure, professional qualification recognition and VET reform. Turkey has also been heavily involved with the Lifelong Learning Programme, and it has been estimated that, between 2007-13, almost 250,000 Turks will have benefitted from EU education and training programmes.

However, it still retains close ties with the Middle East, the Turkic States of Central Asia and African countries.  The population is roughly 80 million, with a relatively young age profile: 26.6% are under 15 years old (as a comparison, 18% of the UK population is below 15).

In the last decade, Turkey has enjoyed robust economic growth, per capita GDP rising more than fourfold (in 2011, for instance, the growth figure stood at 8.8%). At the time of writing, Turkey is the world’s 16th and Europe’s 6th biggest economy.


Turkey has been one of the most popular country files on the International Comparisons database in recent years.  In 2011, Turkey received 9,921 views.  This figure represents a 3.2% fall on the 2010 figure (10,240), but is an increase on 2009 (9,778).

“The figures for Turkey are intriguing.  We see a lot of traffic to the relevant pages on International Comparisons and we get a lot of individuals coming to us with Turkish qualifications; but there aren’t that many applications coming through UCAS.  The most recent figures show that there were only 450 applications and the country doesn’t feature in their top 50 countries.” commented Tim Buttress, Deputy Director Policy and Communications at UK NARIC.

Visa data may demonstrate why. According to the UED (Association of International Education Counsellors, in Turkey), there are now more than 55,000 Turkish nationals studying abroad, with 55% of these relating to language courses. English language courses in the UK have always been particularly popular (and likewise constitute the bulk of visa applications), although recent visa restrictions and costs have led to an increase in interest in other study destinations such as Malta.

Traditionally at higher education level, the most popular destination is the USA. According to UNESCO, Germany, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and the UK make up the rest of the top five study destinations.

Higher Education in Turkey

The higher education sector is currently experiencing considerable expansion. There are now roughly 170 universities, about 75 of which are run by private foundations. In terms of student numbers, there are now more than 2 million higher education students, of which more than 1 million are in undergraduate programmes and ½ million are in higher vocational schools. Only 9% of students are enrolled at the private, foundation universities, indicating the increased specialisation of these institutions.

An increasing global view and focus on quality assurance within higher education is beginning to pay dividends too: in terms of reputation, Middle East Technical University featured in the top 100 ranked universities in the 2012 THE study.

Nonetheless, this provision does not meet domestic demand for education and helps to explain the high numbers of students seeking to travel abroad to study each year. In 2009, for instance, 1.65 million university applications were made, but places for only 330,000 (20%) were available.

Turkey as an International Student Destination

Turkey is itself fast becoming an established destination country for international students. Statistics from the ÖSYM (Student Selection and Placement Center) show that there were 16,000 international students at Turkish universities in 2005-06 and that the number had increased to almost 27,000 by the 2010-11 academic year.

The admission of more foreign students has been stimulated by a governmental drive to play a greater role in the Islamic world, with offers of low tuition fees and generous scholarships. Additionally, in 2010, TUPA (Turkish Universities Promotion Agency) was formed to promote Turkish universities across the world and to attract international students. The Foreign Economic Relations Board’s (DEK) Business Education Council aims to increase the number of international students to 100,000 by 2015.

Official language(s) Turkish
Other language(s) Kurdish and other minority languages
Population 79,749,461 (Jul-12)
Population (world ranking) 17 (Jan-12)
GDP (purchasing power parity) $ 1,053,000,000,000 (Jan-11)
GDP (per capita world ranking) 107 (Jan-11)
Compulsory education Eight years, covering primary and basic education (ages 6 to 14). However, see Education Reforms below.
Academic year School begins in late September and extends through to early June, with some variations between urban and rural areas. Universities usually organise the academic year into two semesters, usually between October – January and between March – July.
Education laws New “4+4+4” Bill, proposing an extension of compulsory school education to 12 years and a reintroduction of more progression pathways at ‘middle school’ level – which has proved controversial as it will re-open progression at age 10 into imam hatip (religious-oriented) middle schools.
Outgoing students
Total (foreign students) 47,275 (2009)
Percentage of world total 1.4% (2009)
Top Destinations USA (12,612), Australia (7,648), France (5,803), Russian Fed. (3,518), Japan (2,895) – 2009
Number of Member Enquiries 2011 73
Member Enquiries 2011 rank 48th
Number of Individual Assessments 2011 237
Individual Assessments 2011 rank 32nd
Number of database page views 2011 9,921
Database page views 2011 rank 24th
Number of database page views 2010 10,240
Database page views 2010 rank 25th

Spotlight: Vietnam

Vietnam is the easternmost country in the Indochina Peninsula. With a population of over 90 million (rising at an annual rate of 1%), it is the world’s fourteenth most populous nation. It also has a young population: over half the population is below 30 years old, and 25% are within the 0-15 year age group.

Since doi moi (economic renovation) was announced in 1986, the country has benefited from sustained economic growth. Over the past decade, for instance, growth rates in the region of 5-10% have consistently been achieved.

In line with the political and economic reforms implemented since 1986, there has also been substantial investment in the education system. Public spending on education, as a percentage of GDP, is higher than all its regional neighbours; universal basic education has been established and the national literacy rate is 94%. Nonetheless, higher education funding has not achieved similar results, where standards are affected by low quality facilities, outdated teaching methods, and a lack of autonomy and academic freedom.


Vietnam is one of the countries showing an increase in the number of page views within the International Comparisons database. During 2011, Vietnam received 5575 views; an increase of 206, or 4% over the 2010 figures. These figures continue the trend; 2010 saw an 18% increase over the 2009 views.

Database page views 2011 5575
Database page views 2011 rank 46th
Database page views 2010 5369
Database page views 2010 rank 53rd
Member Enquiries 2011 100
Member Enquiries 2011 rank (out of 190) 36th
Member Enquiries 2010 127
Member Enquiries 2010 rank (out of 190) 20th
Individual Assessments 2011 8
Individual Assessments 2011 rank 135th
Individual Assessments 2010 9
Individual Assessments 2010 rank 128th

“We’ve had a close look at where Vietnamese member enquiries are coming from and the results have highlighted that organisations from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK are all interested in Vietnam,” stated Tim Buttress, Deputy Director Policy and Communication at UK NARIC. “For instance, we normally see only around 2% of our enquiries from Australia, but this jumps to 13% if we look at questions about Vietnam.”

This broadly supports figures from UCAS, which show that applications from Vietnam increased 15.9% for entry 2011.

Education in Vietnam

All levels of education in Vietnam are the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), apart from vocational and technical education, which comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) – established by Prime Ministerial order in March 1998. The only exceptions are the medical universities, managed by the Ministry of Health, and military and security institutions, which are the responsibility of the Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Public Security respectively.

In the higher education sector, there is an acknowledged lack of capacity. Between 1998 and 2008, 198 new universities / colleges were opened but, with only 400 higher education institutions, only 25% of secondary school graduates get to progress onto the national higher education providers. In 2010 for instance, there were 1.2 million graduates of secondary schools, but only places for 300,000 within the higher education sector. Therefore, with greater levels of disposable income, more parents are able to fund studies at either private higher education providers or international universities. Reasons for choice of international over domestic degree programmes include:

Ref MITC (

Whilst competition to enter public higher education institutions is fierce, the very best students prefer to attend private institutions like the Foreign Trade University, National Economics University, Banking Academy or Medical University, because of increased employability.

In the last few years, the Government has launched new university initiatives with international partners to seek to build world-class institutions. In 2008, the Vietnamese German University (VGU) opened in Ho Chi Minh City. A French-backed technology school is opening in Hanoi and the Australian institution, RMIT, has opened an international campus in the country.

Recent Educational Developments

In 2010, a new Government initiative was launched to introduce English lessons for all 3rd grade students, as a means of supporting continued economic development. Four English sessions are envisaged per week; however, implementation of the policy may be hindered by a lack of English language teachers.

Official language(s) Vietnamese
Other language(s) English (increasingly favoured as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Population 91,519,289
Population date Jul-12
Population (world ranking) 14
GDP (purchasing power parity) $ 299,000,000,000
GDP (purchasing power parity) date 2011
GDP (world ranking) 43
Compulsory education nine years (ages 6 – 14)
Academic year Commonly September – May at school level, and September – June at higher education level.
Education laws Universal Primary Education Law 1991; Education Law 1998; Education Law 2005.
Outgoing students
Total (foreign students) 44,038 (2009)
Percentage of world total 1.3% (2009)
Top Destinations USA (12,612), Australia (7,648), France (5,803), Russian Fed. (3,518), Japan (2,895) – 2009

Spotlight: Indonesia

Based upon data from usage of the UK NARIC service, we present a new set of articles, designed to provide a brief perspective of emerging recruitment markets for education providers.

As the world’s fourth most populous nation consisting of approximately 17,500 islands, Indonesia is one of the countries showing a marked increase in the number of views within the International Comparisons database.

During 2011, Indonesia received 6692 views; an increase of 869, 15% higher than the previous year. These figures continue a trend on the 2010 figures, which witnessed a 17% growth from 2009.

International Comparisons usage data contributes towards UK NARIC’s market information on non-traditional countries of interest. There are a number of possible reasons behind the growth of interest in Indonesia, including:

Some Key Market Facts:

Key Educational Development:

In terms of educational developments, implementation of the Indonesian National Qualifications Framework, locally known as the KKNI (Kerangka Kualifikasi Nasional Indonesia) is underway. Introduced in 2011, the framework benchmarks qualifications to nine levels: Bachelors, Master’s and Doctorates placed at levels six, eight and nine respectively. The primary aim of the development is to increase transparency, facilitate mobility and enhance understanding of the Indonesian education system in years to come. For more information, see

Interesting Fact:

28% of the population is under 15 years old. (Global Health