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Schools Out: Guide to education in Turkey

29th July 2013

Children as we know are certainly the future. But if you’re considering sending your little one off to a Turkish school, what are the choices available?

Under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education, teaching is governed according to the actual constitution of the Turkish Republic. This means every resident has the opportunity to receive education. 

Turkish education deems it obligatory to attend school between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. But how about the academic year? 

Starting between the middle of September and the beginning of October, the bell finally rings for summer at the beginning of June. There is also a fortnight’s vacation during February. 

Introduction to formal education

Preschool is a non-compulsory choice for those up to 6 years old. Meanwhile, primary school spans eight years an comprises of 5 years elementary and 3 years secondary schooling up to 14 years old.

Secondary Education
This encompasses 4 years of Lise, known as high school education for those aged between 15 and 18 years old. The majority of high schools are run by the state and offer free education. 

Categories of High Schools
Public High Schools are called “Normal Liseler” or “Duz Liseler.” You can study here as long as you have carried out the basic 8 years of formal education. 

Vocational High Schools (Meslek Liseleri)
Graduates can extend their studies thanks to these institutions entitled Meslek Yüksek Okulları for a period of 2 years. 

Super High Schools (Super Liseler)
The main alteration here is the target language for maths and science studies is in Turkish with less focus given on English instruction.

Specialist Science High Schools (Fen Liseleri)
Considered to be special public establishments, these are for extremely gifted pupils with a real talent for sciences as well as technical and medicinal subjects.

Private High Schools (Ozel Liseler)
Private schools are not only highly competitive but you will pay for the privilege of attending thanks to expensive tuition fees. 

Overview of Higher Education Institutions
As in the UK, this features 4 years of studying at university. There is an alternative to attend a Higher Vocational Schools for 2 years. In most cases if you want to study for a Master’s Degree this will normally last 2 years while a PHD is at least a 3 to 5 year commitment. 

State Universities (Devlet Universiteleri)
Currently, Turkey has more than 100 state and around 60 private universities, equal to nearly 170 establishments where higher learning takes place. 

The University Entrance Exam (ÖSS) is no longer needed in order to attend university in Turkey. 

You may need to get up to speed with Turkish as most instruction at universities is done in the native language. This is done through a year’s introductory course in order to attain a higher proficiency standard. 

After two years, graduates attain the Associate’s or Pre-Bachelor’s Degree (Lisans Diplomasi). Yet if they want to go on to further their studies at 4 year institutions, they will need to pass the relevant Vertical Transfer Test (Dikey Gecis Sinav). 

Private Universities (Ozel / Vakif Universiteleri)
Instruction in private universities is given in English with 12 months of courses for those who requiring better proficiency.

Generally, these universities charge between 11,500TL up to as much as a whopping 39,000TL. But they do offer financial aid support with nearly 50% of students receiving economic relief. 


See Education in Turkey

Written by Simon Lazarus

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