The number of African students in Turkey increased to over 60,000 in 2022, comprised mostly of Nigerian students on scholarships.
The African student population enrolled at Turkish universities rose sharply from about 40,000, driven mainly by the scholarship opportunities provided by the Turkish government.
The figures are expected to keep rising as the country continues to deepen its engagement with African countries.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt avuşolu, revealed that increased scholarship grants are a result of his country’s policy of using education as a key element of cooperation with the continent.
According to the minister, the country sees education as “the most important area for cooperation with the continent and will continue to devote its energy and resources to growing the relations, implying that the numbers will rise even further.
“Currently, there are almost 61,000 students from the African continent studying in Türkiye, many of them through Türkiye’s scholarships,” the country’s foreign minister stated.
The minister noted that Turkey had become an “African hub with a growing African diaspora of students and businesspeople” over the past 20 years.
Influencing Africa through education: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed during a December 2021 summit with African heads of state, that Turkey had awarded 14,000 scholarships to African students and trained close to 250 African diplomats. Scholarships may have indeed contributed to the increase in enrollment.
In recent years, Turkey has used education as part of its soft power strategy to gain influence on the continent, a strategy shared by other emerging and established world powers such as India, Russia, and China.
Focus on Nigerian students in Turkey: The number of international students enrolled in Turkish universities has seen a huge growth in the recent past, hitting 260,000 in 2022 up from 224,000 in 2021, and up from a mere 32,000 a decade ago in 2012.
According to an analysis by Study in Turkey published in 2019, African countries had students from Egypt leading with 5,821 students followed by Nigeria, which had 3,174 students in Turkish universities.