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.

University education

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.

Higher education financial assistance

Are you an international protection applicant or status holder studying at a university or higher education institution in Turkey? You may be eligible to receive a UNHCR grant for higher education.

Supporting access to higher education is a key element of UNHCR’s education strategy as higher education provides refugees with the opportunity to become skilled professionals, become leaders in their communities and be a positive role model for other refugee youth.

UNHCR offers refugee students the opportunity to apply for cash-based assistance that will contribute to meeting the costs of attending university.

Who is eligible for the UNHCR higher education financial assistance?

In order to benefit from UNHCR’s financial assistance for higher education, the eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • International protection applicant or status holder
  • Enrolled in a state university or higher education institution
  • Studying Associate or Bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum 1.5 GPA (Required for ongoing students, new enrolled students are exempt)

Please note that Syrian citizens under Temporary Protection, persons enrolled in Foundation (private) universities or evening classes, master and doctorate students and DAFI scholarship holders are not eligible for this financial assistance.

Please note that, depending on the number of applications and budget availability, prioritization can be made based on i) level of study; ii) field of study, and iii) academic success.

What is the amount of the financial assistance?

The amount of the financial assistance per semester is

  • 1950 TRY for Associate Degree (2-years programmes)
  • 3770 TRY for Bachelor’s Degree (4-years programmes)
  • 5460 TRY for Bachelor’s Degree (5-6-years programmes*)

*5-6 years programs include Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry.

Financial assistance is provided once per academic semester. A new application for assistance must be submitted each semester.

What supporting documents do I need to include as part of my application?

In addition to the completed application form, applications must include the following supporting documents:

  • Copy of your foreigner’s ID card.
  • Up-to-date student certificate obtained from e-devlet*
  • Up-to-date transcript obtained from e-devlet (Required for ongoing students, new enrolled students are exempt)**

Please note that only fully completed applications will be reviewed.

What is the application period?

Please visit our page again within April 2023 for 2022-2023 Spring Term applications

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.

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