The Turkish Minister of National Education, Nabi Avci, announced in a press conference that Turkey and Qatar will found the Turkish-Qatar International University primarily for Syrian students in Gaziantep, a southeastern Turkish city at the border of Syria.
Avci told opposition parties that Syrian students will be placed at the newly founding university with additional placements, not replacing Turkish students in general placement at Turkish universities.
Avci said, “Nobody should suggest that ‘They are giving education to the Syrians as Turkish students are waiting to receive education.’ No. We will create additional placements.”
Avci also said that schools opened by municipalities and non-governmental organisations in Turkey’s refugee camps are giving five hours of Turkish classes per week under the Syrian curriculum revised according to Turkish standards.
The main opposition party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu recently criticised the refugee policies of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) regarding the Syrians. He said, “We will send our Syrian brothers back to their country. We will say to them ‘Sorry! Go to your country.’ Each person would be happy in the country he or she was born.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly criticised Kilicdaroglu’s Syrian refugee stance in in the past, saying, “Do not pay attention to those who betray us because we hosted our Syrian, and Iraqi brothers. Do not pay attention to those who will send Syrians to their countries. They do not know who is emigrant [muhacir] and who is helper [ensar].”
“Because they do not know these facts, they will never become prime minister in this country. Therefore, they will never able to send anybody to his or her country,” he added.
In 2012, the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YOK), a department of the ministry of national education, decided that Syrian refugees could take classes as “special students” from Turkish universities in Gaziantep, Kilis, Sanliurfa, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adana and Mersin, which are located in Southeastern and Mediterranean regions of Turkey, close to the Syrian border.
The Higher Education Council said that even if Syrian refugees do not possess necessary documents for application to “special student” status, they could be accepted according to their own oral statements.
Following the announcement by the YOK the main opposition party officials from the Southeastern region also criticised the decision
Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled Syria in large numbers with the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which also hosts 300,000 Iraqi refugees in addition to the 1.7 million Syrian refugees.