The Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) hosted a workshop on Friday that drew attention to the threat of racism and xenophobia targeting international students.
Türkiye is a major attraction for students from across the world and currently hosts more than 300,000 of them at universities in 81 provinces. The country has raised its profile as an international education hub in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of private and public universities and incentives such as new scholarship programs. The country’s changing profile in international affairs and its improved bilateral relations in the past decade contributed to the rising number of students.
👥 Çalıştay | Yabancı Düşmanlığının Uluslararası Öğrencilere Etkisi
👤 SETA Genel Koordinatörü Prof. Dr. Burhanettin Duran:
📌 “Uluslararası öğrenciler Türkiye’nin dünya ile entegrasyonuna büyük katkı sağlıyor. Bu öğrencileri hedef alan söylemler ciddi bir sorun olarak… pic.twitter.com/9MQG3L3HEe
— SETA (@setavakfi) September 15, 2023
Yet, Türkiye also faces an escalation, especially on social media, of xenophobia and racism. It is more related to the growing number of migrants and refugees in the country, but occasionally, international students are the target of verbal harassment on social media.
SETA General Coordinator Professor Burhanettin Duran told a meeting at the workshop entitled “Impact of Xenophobia on International Students” that international students were among major contributors to Türkiye’s integration with the world and noted rhetoric targeting them emerged as a major issue. “We see xenophobia and Islamophobia going hand in hand in the West and in Türkiye, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, these issues were prevented. But we see them escalating recently again. This necessitates taking some measures,” he said.
Professor Çağrı Erhan, rector of Altınbaş University in Istanbul, said xenophobia in the West drove international students from many countries to choose Türkiye instead for education. “But the concern over xenophobia in Türkiye bears the risk of creating the same consequence here (driving students to other countries,” he said.
Professor Erol Özvar, head of the Board of Higher Education, said international student mobility has been a strategic issue in the political field and the number of international students in Türkiye increased tenfold in the past two decades, surpassing the United States and the United Kingdom. “International students are important for host countries in terms of economy and cultural interaction. Thus, we need a smooth process without any problems for their social integration,” he said.