Impacts of COVID-19 on Study Abroad  Plans of Turkish Students 2020 -  A survey by IEFT, IEFT TALKS and  EuroAsia Workshop

Impacts of COVID-19 on Study Abroad Plans of Turkish Students 2020 - A survey by IEFT, IEFT TALKS and EuroAsia Workshop

 As we all know, international education industry has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, which has been negatively influencing the whole world for the past few months. Students who were planning to study abroad and educational institutions all around the world had to make some amendments in their planning. Many educational institutions have increased the amount of funding and scholarship opportunities, and have started to provide more flexibility in admission conditions.  At the same time, they have started to offer their classes online to prevent students from wasting time in their educational lives.

There is nearly a 4-month period to start the 2020-2021 academic year. Although it is thought that the effect of the virus will slow down in this process, important educational institutions around the world measure the perceptions of students and parents through some surveys they conduct online.

In this context, as IEFT and IEFT Talks we started a survey on 13 March 2020. The survey consists of 7 questions in total. The process of sampling took approximately two months and the survey was carried out online with the participation of over 500 Turkish students. Through our survey, we had the opportunity to measure how COVID-19 affected Turkish students' international education plans.

In our survey study completed on May 13, 2020, the questions we asked students were as follows:

1) Did COVID 19 affect your study abroad plans?

2) What year do you plan to study abroad?

3) What kind of programs do you plan to conduct abroad?

4) Which country or countries do you intend to apply for? (You can choose more than one)

5) How did Covid 19 affect your study abroad plans?

6) Which of the following options do you prefer during COVID 19?

7) Would you prefer it if the program you want was given online?



The first question we asked was “Did COVİD 19 AFFECT YOUR OVERSEAS TRAINING PLANS?”

In response to this question, 72.2% of our students answered "yes", while the percentage of students who answered "no" was 27.8%. The conclusion reveals that approximately 2/3 of the survey participants and their study abroad plans were affected due to COVID 19. Our survey result clearly shows that COVID 19 has had a major impact on the overseas education sector, as in all sectors. These results are also in parallel with the surveys conducted by other educational institutions all around the world.


The second question we asked was, "WHICH YEAR ARE YOU PLANNING TO STUDY ABROAD?"

This question was asked to measure how the pandemic process caused changes in study plans abroad. Looking at the results in detail, while 23.2% of Turkish students continue their education abroad in 2020, a surprising 50.7% of the students plan to postpone their overseas plans to 2021, 12.3% to 2022, and 13%. It was concluded that 7 of them will evaluate education abroad in 2023 or later.

This result reveals that approximately 73.6% of students want to continue their education abroad in 2020-2021, even if the pandemic process affects Turkish students, this effect is short-lived. Although the effect of the process is short-term, for the overseas education industry, it is observed that 2020 will be a very difficult year especially in terms of language school and summer school programs, and academic enrollments may be affected as well.


The third question we asked was the question, "WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO STUDY ABROAD?"

Looking at the results of the survey, although Covid 19 affects young people's education plans abroad, it is revealed that the future anxiety of the youth prevails. Turkish students study abroad in order to guarantee their future and therefore studying in abroad is seen as an important step in their lives and each year approximately 100,000 students move abroad for their studies.

The survey conducted in the scope of IEFT and IEFT Talks reveals that Turkish students are mainly interested in graduate programs. According to the results of the survey, students are mainly career oriented and 34.7% of the students want to study master's degree, while 23.6% of the students are looking for undergraduate degrees, 11.1% language education, 9.7% work and travel , 9,7% PhD and 2% preferred the certificate and internship programs.

Turkish students have always been mainly interested in graduate studies, even before the pandemic, and the interest continues during the COVID era. At the same time, it is observed that the uncertainty surrounding the university placement exams during this pandemic process also caused a big leap in the number of students who prefer to study abroad.



While pre-pandemic, the UK was the most preferred overseas destination for studying, 43.8% of the survey respondents stated their desire to study in the USA. The UK is in second place with 39.7%, while Canada is in third place with 38.4%.

Canada stands out as the country where demand for overseas education has increased the most during Covid 19. Both Canada's good management of the Covid 19 process, and the opportunities and scholarships provided by Canadian schools for Turkish students during the pandemic made the country the country most in demand during this process.

Considering the results of the survey, Germany is in the fourth place with 27.4% and Netherlands in the fifth place with 16.4%. Sixth and seventh are Australia with 15.1% and Italy with 12.3%, respectively.

The fifth question we asked was “HOW COVID 19 AFFECTED YOUR OVERSEAS EDUCATION PLANS?”

Almost half of the students surveyed reported that they either canceled or postponed their studies abroad. The rate of students who canceled their study abroad programs is 13.7%, while the rate of students who postponed their studies is 34.2%.

26% of the students stated that their study abroad plans are not affected and they will continue their plans. 21.9% of the students who participated in the survey stated that they did not make their final decisions yet.

This result reveals that almost 75% of students have disrupted their education plans abroad in 2020 and some have canceled and some postponed them.

The sixth question we asked was “WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS DO YOU PREFER IN COVID 19? "

The students participating in the survey were asked to choose one of the following options about which one they would prefer if the pandemic process continued.

The options given to students are as follows:

1. I will continue my abroad education plans.

2. I will start online education.

3. After the restrictions on travel have been removed, I will start with online education and continue my education abroad.

4. I am not quite sure yet.

Although the answers to this question varied, 37% of the students stated that they are not yet sure how to continue their plans. This answer was followed with 31.5% by students stating that their education plans abroad will continue. 20.5% of the students stated that they are willing to take online classes as long as the pandemic continues and they are willing to take face to face education after the travel restrictions are over. 9.6% of the students stated that they would choose online education during the Covid 19 outbreak.

These answers reveal that current uncertain pandemic period is a huge potential for online education providers. When we include 37% of the students who are undecided, almost 60% of the students lean to online education. Online education providers can easily persuade this audience with properly targeted marketing activities. Online education seems to be a part of our education life, not only in this process, but also after Covid 19. Students are ready to explore online opportunities, and most of them have already adapted themselves to the current situation.

The seventh and final question we asked was, "IF THE PROGRAM YOU WANTED TO STUDY WAS GIVEN ONLINE, WOULD YOU PREFER IT?

The participants were asked if they would like to take online education if the program of their choice is offered online. 41.1% of the students stated that they would like to take online education.

Perhaps the most striking result of the survey results is experienced in online education.

While pre-pandemic, in Turkey online education was not very popular, with the effect of moving to online platforms for all levels of education during the pandemic period, students are now more interested in online programs and it is experiencing a huge increase in demand.


While 40% of the students who participated in the survey stated that they can get their education online, 60% of the students stated that they want to start the lessons online with the hybrid education model, and want to take some lessons online and some lessons in the classroom later on.

How will be the future of International Education?

There are a majority in Turkey who are still willing to study and live abroad, learn other cultures and languages, also evaluate career opportunities in the overseas.

The fact that online programs are limited especially in terms of internships and study programs set a barrier for students who want to study abroad in these fields. When the survey results are evaluated as a whole, it is observed that with the end of the pandemic process, Turkish students will continue to participate in various programs abroad intensely. However, it is observed that online and hybrid education will increase in this process and increase its market share in various fields.

What is the Future of Online Education in Turkey?

Online education in Turkey now takes its place as a new type of an education system and will gradually increase to more programs and school training. Besides, of course, it is an indispensable fact that face-to-face education will continue for a long time.

However, in this process, online courses and new programs to be opened simultaneously with face-to-face courses will gradually increase after the pandemic process. In this context, online education can be particularly interesting for language schools, language exam preparation programs, pre-school programs, short-term diploma and certificate programs.

International academic institutions will continue to offer programs both on campus and online as hybrid and will continue to develop gradually.