Zırh B. C. , Çalışkan E.

The 3 International Higher Education Studies Conference, Kayseri, Turkey, 11 - 13 October 2018, pp.148

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Kayseri
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.148
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


ABSTRACT After the Helsinki Summit (1999) by gaining the status of “candidate country destined to join the EU,” Turkey became a participating country in the ERASMUS programme in 2004. Since then, more than 120 thousands higher education students from Turkey have benefited from the. Although this number is relatively low in comparison to other European countries, this exchange schema gains a particular significance in the case of Turkey as being nearly the only opportunity for undergraduate students to study abroad. Due to the visa regulations and also financial limitations, the large majority of participating students would not have been able to have this international experience without the ERASMUS. Turkey’s longstanding and complicated relationship with the “West” intensifies this particular significance. From the late Ottoman modernization to the guest-worker migration started in the 1960, “going abroad (to study/work),” usually connotes “to Europe,” gains a specific social meaning almost like a rite of passage. In the lights of this historical and socio-political background, this study aims to understand how the applicants in Turkey make their decisions to apply for this exchange schema, what are their expectations and how they narrate this decision before participating. We conducted our research in the case of Middle East Technical University (METU) which is a leading university in the field of international exchanges since the ERASMUS started as a pilot scheme in 2003. For instance, the number of applicants steadily increased from 37 in 2004 to 576 in 2016. Moreover, METU is also one of the principal universities in terms of academic quality and using English as the language of instruction. In this sense, we assume that students at METU are more open and willing to have international experience. Within this framework, a comprehensive online surveyed applied to 700 applicants from the cohort of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years at METU. We also conducted individual interviews and organized focus group discussions to enrich our data.