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Internationalising higher education: the case of Singapore and Turkey

The global competition for international students is getting fierce as increasingly more countries launch innovative strategies with the hope to further internationalise their higher education systems. Singapore has outlined an ambitious scheme – part of a broader plan to transform the country into a global hub for business, investment and talent - to attract 150 000 international students by 2015, as reported by officials from the Singapore Tourism Board. With presently 90 000 foreign students representing over 120 nationalities, Singapore’s higher education is already highly internationalised: 75 percent of all students there are foreigners.

In the same line, the Turkish Higher Education Board (YÖK) is trying to enhance the attractiveness of Turkish higher education in the eyes of international students. As part of its marketing strategy, YÖK is encouraging private universities to lower their tuition fees for foreign students, following the Bulgarian example – Turkey’s main regional competitor in the field of higher - and to adjust the Foreign Student Exam, which currently poses major (also bureaucratic) obstacles to the admittance of foreigners at higher education institutions in Turkey. Despite an impressive number of almost 17 000 international students in the academic year 2007-2008, most of the foreign students in Turkey come from Central Asia –  the need for a marketing strategy to address other regions is obvious.

It remains to be seen whether the two countries will manage to reach their ambitious goals.

Singapore Tourism Board