Turkish students studying abroad find themselves in limbo amid coronavirus panic

Turkish citizens studying abroad report lacking clear instructions from their schools and government regarding whether they must return to Turkey. Some students abroad were told by their universities that Turkey’s Council of Higher Education had told them to return to their home country, but an official from the institution refuted that such a directive was given.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR 

Students studying abroad through the European Union-partnered Erasmus program are unsure of what to do as they receive inconsistent instructions from their educational institutions and Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) amid worldwide panic surrounding the novel coronavirus.

An unspecified university abroad reportedly told their Erasmus students from Turkey that YÖK had commanded them to return to their home country and that the school wouldn’t take responsibility for them if they chose to stay. 

Students reported struggling to book return trips and complained about a lack of information regarding their situation. 

YÖK officials, on the other hand, denied ever making a call for students to return to Turkey.

“There’s no official decision to have students studying abroad return to Turkey. We’re working to prevent them from suffering academically in this process,” a YÖK official told Duvar.

Precautions have been applied to students returning from exchange programs abroad, the official added.

National Agency: Apply to return home

Meanwhile, the Turkish National Agency, which is in charge of all EU programs, told Erasmus students to apply to their local embassies by 5 p.m. on March 16 if they wish to return to Turkey. 

“If they don’t apply to their local embassies by 5 p.m. March 16, it will be difficult to arrange their return,” an official from the National Agency said. 

If students choose to return to Turkey, they can continue classes there, the official said, adding that expenses related to their transfer will also be paid for.