Photo by Mat Wright, British Council: University College London
Yavuz Yilmazoglu, Education Manager for British Council Turkey, tells us what the new higher education partnership means for universities and students in the UK and Turkey.
Turkey is one of the world’s most dynamic economies, where reforms are rapidly taking place, also in higher education. The number of Turkish universities has grown by over 100% since 2003, reaching a total of 170.
According to Professor Gökhan Çetinsaya, President of the Council of Higher Education (CoHE) Turkey, this number will continue to increase, with 100 more Turkish higher education institutions expected to be accredited by 2023 — a pivotal year for Turkey, when the republic will be celebrating its centenary.
These are significant developments, which had already been recognised through an umbrella initiative by the British Council, UK Trade & Investment and the Science and Innovation Network called ‘Knowledge Partnership’.
The initiative was designed to increase investment and trade through collaborations in higher education, science, innovation and industry between the UK and Turkey.
A component of the initiative (the British Council’s UK-Turkey Higher Education Industry Partnership programme) served as an inspiration for a new agreement.
Following a British Council-led visit by the UK’s Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, and 16 senior UK university leaders to Turkey, Willetts invited Professor Çetinsaya and a group of Turkish university heads to London to sign a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the representative organisation for the UK’s higher education sector, Universities UK (UUK).
The aim of this memorandum is to agree on a framework to further co-operation between Turkish and UK universities.
This means more research partnerships between the two countries, student and academic exchanges, joint degree programmes and policy discussions.”
Already, a new Turkish higher education law currently open for public consultation is expected to be passed by the end of the year to not only put quality assurance systems in place in response to a growing sector, but also to encourage foreign universities to establish branches in Turkey.
Another goal of the memorandum is to increase the number of UK students going to Turkey. The number of Turkish students going to the UK is growing by about ten per cent each year, but the inverse is still small.
Such collaboration helps both countries develop world class research, increase their international profile and better prepare their graduates for work in the global economy.
Helping the UK develop higher education relationships with other countries is a major strand of the British Council’s work, and facilitating formal agreements of this sort is at the heart of it.
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