The Turkish Higher Education System has developed significantly. Today 180 public and private Turkish universities offer degrees in line with the Bologna process and there is an increasing number of universities offering programs taught in English. There are now 7 Turkish universities in the top 100 university list, and 3 of them are in the top 10 (Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies Rankings 2014).

The Internationalization of Turkish Research Universities (ITRU) Group is a new initiative of the International Offices of five of Turkey’s top public and not-for-profit research intensive universities that aims to bring together their expertise to create new synergies and strengths and in the long term contribute to further improve the quality of The Turkish Higher Education System in the area of internationalization. At present the group is comprised of representatives from the International Offices of:

◉ Bilkent University (BU), Ankara (Not-for-profit/Foundation)
◉ Boğaziçi University (BOUN), Istanbul (Public/State)
◉ Koç University (KU), Istanbul (Not-for-profit/Foundation)
◉ Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara (Public/State)
◉ Sabancı University (SU), Istanbul (Not-for-profit/Foundation)

In time we expect to widen this informal initiative through activities and advocacy to other high quality Turkish Research Universities. More information about the Turkish university system and universities is available on http://studyinturkey.gov.tr/.


On a practical level, the group is born out of the need to have an informal framework to share our International Offices’ expertise and best practices and, to find solutions to common problems in the process of internationalisation of teaching, learning, research and campus management activities. The value of these informal alliances is to achieve shared strategic institutional goals that would be more difficult or protracted to realize as individual universities. Starting in late 2014 we have started to discuss doing some of the following activities together: Annual Forum/Lecture Series on international higher education in Turkey and the region, structured dialogue with national, EU and other international stakeholders, topic or regional working groups/task forces, benchmarking best practices, joint doctoral Summer Schools and internship programs, joint research and education projects, representation at major International Higher Education conferences.

From a strategic perspective, the Group members’ track record in research, teaching, international reputation, international partnerships and well established International Offices offers great potential for helping Turkey achieve its goal of becoming a global education hub. The timing is just right to start working together as Turkey is now investing more resources to attract 200,000 international students annually, increase its research partnerships with the EU and globally, attract international research talent and, develop strong industry-university links for innovation.


Shared values
ITRU draws together Turkish public and not-for-profit research intensive universities’ International Offices with common values such as a global outlook, a commitment to educating future national and global leaders, diversity and international collaboration.

Each university determines the extent of its involvement in each of the activities of ITRU to suit its particular objectives and constraints. There are no formal agreements to join the initiative and collaborate with the activities of the group.

Strategic collaboration
ITRU will aim to foster new and/or substantially deeper and more wide-ranging collaborations between its International Offices that build on the existing teaching and/or research based institutional collaborations.

ITRU will articulate the value of international education at national levels both at home and abroad in order to influence policy or secure resources. It will focus its efforts in positioning Turkey as a research destination, develop competences in international higher education in Turkey and the region.