Primary and secondary education
All refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to education and may enrol in Turkish schools after they have been issued with a foreigner’s identification number by the Turkish authorities. UNHCR advises you to enrol your child in school as soon as possible. There is no need to wait until your UNHCR registration or refugee status determination procedures are completed.
- All children have the right to education in Turkey.
- Public schools are free of charge.
- You need to be registered with the Turkish authorities before enrolling your child in school.
- Go directly to the Provincial Education Directorate if you wish to enrol your child.
- School is not just about learning – going to school brings many social and emotional benefits for children.
In addition to schooling, refugees and asylum-seekers may also attend courses offered by Public Education Centres (including Turkish language courses). These courses are offered free of charge.
It is important for children to attend school, no matter how long you expect to stay in Turkey! Even if you hope to be resettled to another country or to go back to your country, it is important that you and your family use the time in Turkey to develop the skills that will help your children integrate socially and academically into a new education system. The longer your children are out of school, the more difficult this becomes.
In addition to the educational benefits, attending school will help your children heal from the effects of displacement. Having a regular routine (by going to school or language classes daily) provides children and youth with stability. Attending school also creates a focus on the future, rather than what happened in the past and the situations that led to you and your family seeking assistance in Turkey.
How to enrol your children in school
You will need to enrol your children in schools that are in the city in which you are registered. Approach the Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of National Education to enrol you children in the nearest public school. The only documents you will need are: registration with the Turkish authorities (foreigner’s ID number) and proof of residential address (obtained from mukhtar). The Directorate will determine which school is closest to your home and may administer a short test to decide on the grade into which your child will be placed.
If there is an ASAM or HRDF office in the city in which you live, they can assist you.
Financial support for education (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
The Ministry of Family and Social Policies (MoFSP), the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are implementing a nationwide social assistance programme called the ‘Conditional Cash Transfer for Education’ (CCTE) for refugees. This is an extension of the CCTE programme implemented by MoFSP since 2003 for Turkish citizens as well as foreigners residing in Turkey. All refugees who are residing in off-camp settings, regardless of nationality, can benefit from this assistance (if they meet the eligibility criteria). The CCTE provides cash payments to eligible families conditional on regular school attendance of their children (from kindergarten to Grade 12).
The CCTE programme is open to refugees of all nationalities. Applicants for the CCTE must be registered with the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) and have a foreigner’s ID number beginning with the number 99 and be registered in the MERNIS database. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for the CCTE programme and send their children to school regularly in order to receive CCTE payments regularly.
More information on CCTE for refugees (including application procedures and eligibility criteria) is available in the CCTE brochure.
Refugees can attend university in Turkey. Students wishing to enrol in Turkish universities should have the following: foreigner’s ID number; proof of having completed Grade 12 of secondary school; the results of the Foreign Students Examination (YOS) administered by the university in which you wish to enrol; and proof of proficiency in the language of instruction.
Information on study programmes and admissions requirements, including for foreign students, is available on university websites.
Please note that students who are refugees and asylum-seekers are considered ‘foreign students’ by universities. Higher tuition fees may apply for foreign students.
Financial support for higher education
UNHCR is providing eligible students under international protection with cash-based assistance to contribute to the costs of pursuing higher education. UNHCR’s higher education grant aims to support eligible refugee students to meet the costs of enrolling in and attending higher education institutions in Turkey.
Financial assistance is provided once per academic semester. The value of the grant is approximately 1500 TL per semester; it will be provided as a single payment each semester. Applications for assistance must be made each semester, with proof of ongoing enrolment in university.
Payments will be made through a pre-paid MasterCard debit card, issued by PTT on behalf of UNHCR.
To be eligible for UNHCR’s financial assistance, you must be:
- Registered with UNHCR or DGMM as international protection applicants.
- Registered with the Turkish authorities and have a valid foreigner’s ID number (starting with 99).
- Enrolled in a Turkish university for an associate degree (ön lisans), bachelor’s degree (lisans) or master’s degree (yüksek lisans) or have been accepted into a university programme but not yet begun your studies.
Master’s degree students are eligible for partial financial assistance.
Please note that Syrian nationals under temporary protection, DAFI scholarship holders, PhD students and persons enrolled in Turkish language programmes offered at university-based institutes/private providers (e.g. TOMER programmes) are not eligible for this grant programme.
Please note that UNHCR cannot process urgent applications for assistance.
How to apply?
To apply, please visit our online application page, where you will be able to complete the form electronically and upload all supporting documents.
Each application should contain:
- Completed higher education assistance application form. Only fully completed forms will be reviewed.
- Proof of student enrolment or proof of university acceptance.
- Up-to-date student certificate.
- Copy of your foreigner’s ID card.
- Copy of UNHCR certificate.
Applications for the fall semester of the 2019-2020 academic year are now open.
You will be able to check the result of your application on the UNHCR ‘Results’ website.
For further details, visit the information page on UNHCR’s higher education assistance.
Studying online in Turkey
Foreign students can enrol in Anadolu University, Turkey’s online and distance university. Degrees and diplomas awarded by Anadolu University are recognized in Turkey and internationally.
A number of other institutions also offer online programmes (e.g. University of the People, Coursera). Many of these programmes are not recognized as official qualifications in Turkey. These courses are useful in helping refresh knowledge and in helping students prepare for university.
Skills training and vocational education
Foreigners may enrol in vocational schools operated by the Ministry of National Education. Enrolment procedures and requirements are the same as for other schools.
Skills training courses are also offered free of charge by Public Education Centres (Halk Eğitim Merkezi) and are certified by the Ministry of National Education. A valid foreigner’s identification number is required in order to register for these courses.
Turkish language learning
Learning Turkish is a basic survival skill while living in Turkey. Learning Turkish will help make daily life and basic tasks easier (shopping, using public transport), help build friendships with others living in the same area, and help in emergencies (communicating with doctors or police).
Turkish classes are offered by Public Education Centres (Halk Eğitim Merkezi) free of charge. Please approach your local Public Education Centre to register for a class. UNHCR partners can also provide more information on language courses available in your city.
Anadolu University also offers free online Turkish courses at the beginner (A1) and elementary (A2) levels. They are available to anyone who wishes to learn Turkish. You can find out more about the ANA-DİL Turkish programme and register for a course on the ANA-DİL Turkish learning website of Anadolu University.
The Yunus Emre Institute (YEI) provides online Turkish courses from the beginner level (A1) to the advanced level (C1). As its courses have a flexible structure, the YEI’s ‘Distance Turkish Instruction Portal’ enables students to learn Turkish at their own pace, and wherever they might be. You can find more information and register for the programme on the Yunus Emre Institute website.