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Murat Özoglu, Bekir S. Gür & Ipek Coskun. Factors influencing international students’ choice to study in Turkey and challenges they experience in Turkey. Research in Comparative & International Education, 2015, 1-15. DOI: 10.1177/1745499915571718.
Turkey is increasingly becoming a regional hub for international students. The number of international students in Turkish universities has grown by almost 300% in the last decade. The current internationalization efforts of the Turkish government and universities have the potential to make Turkey an even more attractive destination for international students, especially from surrounding regions. This remarkable growth comes with some opportunities and challenges that deserve close attention. This study explores the factors influencing international students’ decisions to choose Turkey as their study destination and the challenges they experienced. Data were drawn from 37 international students studying in Turkey through semi-structured in-depth interviews. The results suggest that geographical proximity and cultural, historical, religious and ethnic affinities seem to be very prominent in international students’ decisions to study in Turkey as an emerging regional hub. Several other factors including comparable quality of education, affordability of living and education, scholarship opportunities, and recommendations by family or friends are also found to influence their choice of Turkey. The major challenges include lack of adequate guidance and information during pre- and post-arrival processes. Policy recommendations for emerging study destinations such as Turkey are discussed based on the findings.