Education and training have long been recognized as key drivers of social and economic development. With a population of 15 million, Istanbul has more than 3 million students from primary school to universities.

Out of these 3 million students, 890k study in higher education programs of 61 universities. Turkey has long expressed its determination to harmonize tertiary education in Turkey to EU standards, so adopted a three-cycle degree structure and introduce the common European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. Plus, Turkish universities now participate in the EU’s Erasmus student exchange program; therefore, Istanbul’s 56 universities accept thousands of international students. The portion of private sector participation in the education sector is only 4% in Turkey, mostly concentrated in Istanbul. It is now targeted to rise to 25% by 2023, which is an excellent opportunity for international investors. Moreover, current investment incentive system provides great advantages in both lower and higher education.

Turkish universities are now taking steps to raise foreign student numbers. Among many issues attracting the attention of education policymakers in Turkey, one of the most critical is the country’s and Istanbul’s position in the global higher education. The Times Higher Education conducted a study in 2017 that indicates universities international rankings in Emerging Economies. According to the study Istanbul hosts 2 universities in the top 20.

2 of 20 Best Universities in Emerging Economies are in Istanbul!


(Times Higher Education 2017)

This has been an area of success over the past several years, as seen by the huge increase in international student enrollment. Moreover, education is supported within the framework of the Regional Investment Incentive Scheme in Istanbul. 

Classification of Student Numbers across Education Levels

Education Level

# of Students 

Pre-School 190,598
Primary School 865,216
Middle School 953,033
High School 1,015,147
Associate 195,065
Bachelor's 525,612
Master's 142,029
PhD 27,581
TOTAL 3,914,281
Source: Turkstat & Higher Education Council, 2016-2017.

# of Schools (from Pre-School to University): 7,813 
Turkstat & Higher Education Council 
# of Universities: 61
Higher Education Council 
# of University Students: 890k  
Higher Education Council