Turkish Education Ministry says students going on Erasmus program seek asylum abroad

Turkey’s Education Ministry has sent a letter to 81 provincial directorates, warning them against the increase in the number of students seeking asylum abroad after being sent there under the Erasmus program. The ministry called on the provincial directorates to conduct “the selection program in a rigorous way.”

Duvar English

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has sent a notice to the Education Ministry, warning that students and teachers sent abroad under the Erasmus and internship program are seeking asylum in the relevant country, according to reporting by the daily Sözcü.

In the face of this warning, Education Ministry’s EU and Foreign Relations department head Hasan Ünsal penned a letter to the 81 provincial directors, instructing them not to let students and teachers go abroad should they detect any risk of the relevant student or teacher staying there.  

“In the relevant letter received from the Turkish National Agency of the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for EU Affairs, it has been indicated that especially vocational high school students have in recent months left the programs in the member countries (especially Germany, Austria and Czech Republic) during their internship activities, without notifying their school managements, and that there are even cases of students and teachers who have not come back to our country,” Ünsal wrote. 

“The increase of such cases constitutes a negative situation in terms of the respectability of the programs that we run and our official passports. Within this context, the selection process needs to be followed in a rigorous for those that will be involved in visits and/or internship programs within the international projects, especially Erasmus program,” he wrote.

Some 20,000 students are going to EU countries every year from Turkey under the Erasmus program. Students can stay in the country of destination at least two months and at most one year under the program and then need to come back to Turkey. Turkish authorities have launched a work to determine the number of students and teachers who have so far found asylum in another country after going there with the Erasmus program.