Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the United Kingdom Council of Turkish Students' Societies

  1.  The United Kingdom Council of Turkish Students' Societies (UKCTSS), founded in 1997, is an independent student-led institution gathering more than 50 Turkish and Turkic Societies in British higher education institutions. We aim to establish and develop academic and cultural co-operation and communication among the British and Turkish higher educational institutions and students.

  2.  UKCTSS has been recognised by numerous private and official Turkish and British institutions including the Turkish Embassy in London, British Council and Turkish Educational Authority.

  3.  We have recently become aware that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has been undertaking an inquiry into the United Kingdom's relations with Turkey.

  4.  We believe that youth related subjects should take a significant part of your committee's report since the future of both Anglo-Turkish and Turkey-EU relations rely upon them.

  5.  More than six thousand Turkish students are studying or conducting research in British higher education institutions. Student members of our member societies include both British citizens of Turkish origin and Turkish students who came to Britain to proceed with their higher education and/or research.

  6.  As you would appreciate education pays off not only during the education itself but also afterwards. We have observed that sharing the same education and research environments provides invaluable opportunities for mutual understanding. Exchange of first hand information about our countries, peoples, histories and cultures as well as technological and scientific information would inevitably avoid mutual misunderstandings, misconceptions and disinformation between our countries. Obviously avoiding those would provide better and smoother relations between Turkey and Britain.

  7.  The Turkish Community in the United Kingdom is becoming more integrated and intertwined with British society. However, we have to face that the educational level of Turkish Community in the UK is lower than the overall British level. Promoting and/or supporting the promotion of education, especially higher education, in the Turkish community in the UK will enable more people to attend university and will eventually yield to strengthen and accelerate the integration of Turkish Community to the British society. This would also make a positive impact in Anglo-Turkish relations.

  8.  Turkish students living in the UK during their higher education also play similar roles in Anglo-Turkish relations. Meeting another culture and living in it should not only be considered as a personal benefit for those students. Most of the students and researchers would transfer their experiences to vast numbers of people when they come to hold key academic and managerial positions in Turkey.

  9.  The contribution of Turkish researchers and scientists as well as professionals living and researching in the UK is a known fact in academic and professional circles. Both Turkey and the UK would benefit from inter-university research, parallel/common degree/research programs, and co-operation in education, research, science and technology. We are sure that Turkish youth is ready to contribute to science and technology with their British fellows.

  10.  Turkey, a secular, democratic and Muslim country, has been aiming at contemporary civilisations since the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Such a unique example in Muslim world is considered as a model for the rest. We think that we need more co-operation than ever to clarify minds of Muslims about Christians and vice versa. Turkey is the best state to start with such an intensive relation towards mutual understanding of religions , and youth is the best group to begin with.

  11.  Given all these positive aspects and great promises for the future an essential obstacle exists between British and Turkish students considering higher education in the UK. Turkish students' fees are at least three times more than British, EU or Commonwealth students' fees. Such an unfair discrepancy forces Turkish students to seek different education opportunities around the world. Even grant provider institutions have been reluctant to support students planning to study or research British institutions. As a candidate of EU, as a Customs Union country, as a close British ally, as a European country, it is quite unpleasant to see that unnamed indirect exclusion policy is in force for Turkish students.

  12.  We suggest the committee consider the possibility of proposing that government make relevant changes to make British institutions apply EU-rate university fees to Turkish students.

  13.  Moreover, we suggest the committee consider the possibility of promoting and proposing that the government take relevant action to provide extra means for Anglo-Turkish student exchange, visit programmes, research activities.

  14.  We hope that the United Kingdom's constructive efforts would be improved with the launch of your committee's report especially considering Turkish and British youths. This would pay off by establishing stronger links between Turkey and the United Kingdom. Such a positive attitude would absolutely support the development of EU-Turkey relationship as well.

United Kingdom Council of Turkish Students' Societies

January 2002

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