Over 4,200 Syrian youth will benefit from academic Turkish programme for access to university

27 March 2018, Ankara – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Union (EU), and the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) are working together to increase access to quality higher education opportunities for Syrian youth in Turkey. The establishment of university preparation programmes will enable Syrian students to acquire the Turkish language skills needed to study in Turkish universities.

With the funding received from the European Union and the Republic of Turkey, UNHCR is collaborating with YTB for the implementation of two projects: “Supporting the national institutions in Turkey to mitigate the impact of Syrian refugee crisis” and “Increasing access to higher education for Syrian refugees in Turkey”. The two projects aim to increase the number of Syrian students who are able to enroll and succeed in higher education programmes in Turkey.

Thanks to these two projects, in the academic year of 2017-2018, over 4,200 Syrian high school graduates will have the opportunity to complete an intensive nine-month Turkish language programme that will enable students to reach the levels of Turkish proficiency required for enrolment in Turkish universities. The Turkish government has generously waived academic tuition fees for Syrian refugees, and through these programmes the Syrian youth will have completed the first step towards entering university by being able to speak, read and write in Turkish.

UNHCR Representative in Turkey, Katharina Lumpp, underlines the importance these projects: “These two projects are good examples of effective collaboration and responsibility sharing between the Turkish institutions, UNHCR and the EU. The combined efforts will contribute to ensuring that Syrian youth are able to realize their dreams of going to university and will later be able to make a positive contribution to the communities in which they live as skilled professionals.”

Mehmet Köse, President of YTB, underlining the importance of such collaborations, stated that such long-term projects targeting the Syrian youth, will also contribute to world peace. Köse noted “It is possible that the civil war in Syria has caused damage to the country’s infrastructure that will take long time to repair. However a more important point is to ensure that the Syrian youth who are displaced are enabled to make the most of their time in the host country, while also thinking about the future of their country. We know examples where in countries where such humanitarian crisis occurs, due to what they have experienced, the youth may be described as ‘lost generations’. However with the conscious support of the international community, education opportunities provided to Syrian youth in the host communities they live in, will prevent them from being ‘lost generations’. On the contrary, this will allow them to become the ‘founding generations’ who will be the future of Syria. It is certain that education is of the main pillars of regional and global peace in our day.”

Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger, said on the occasion that “Education is a key in our support to refugees in Turkey. Turkey’s decision on the waiving of the academic tuition fees for Syrian refugees has allowed us to implement such projects together with our partner UNHCR and Turkish institutions such as YTB. We believe enabling young people’s access to education will give them a better chance to build their future.”

Hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, Turkey is providing protection to more than 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees. Partnerships such as this represent an important example of the strong cooperation among relevant stakeholders as education is considered fundamental in the refugee response, to be supported by long-term planning and reliable funding.


For media queries, please contact:

Selin Ünal, UNHCR Turkey Spokesperson

E-mail: [email protected]

Phone: 90.530.2827862


Mehmet Nedim Aslan, YTB, Cultural and Social Relations Division

E-mail: [email protected]

Phone: 90.312.2184000