December 8, 2023

The institution, which officially opened in 2014 and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research through the DAAD, has confirmed scholarships for current students. Many of the students’ families come from a region in the country’s southeast that was devastated by an earthquake that killed about 50,000 people earlier this year.

TAU/TDU in Istanbul – which reorganized its academic calendar for this year in response to the crisis – wanted to make an immediate impact on its students.

“A lot of students got involved. A lot of students came from the affected region and the semester just started.” Wiebke Bachmann, head of K-TDU’s section for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), told The PIE. “We thought about what we could do very quickly.

Along with a fund for study materials such as paper, books and computers, the university initially sought to establish 20 scholarships per year.

“We thought about what if families can no longer financially support their children to study. We had over 70 applications for 20 scholarships, with some students losing their entire families,” explained Bachmann.

The final decision meant that three of the 48 scholarships were awarded to the most disadvantaged students, who received the full €500 per month, with the rest receiving €300 per month.

JPMorgan estimated the cost of the destroyed structures could exceed $25 billion, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this week put the total needed closer to $104 billion.

The EU agreed to send 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) to Turkey for reconstruction, with EU President Ursula von der Leyen calling for schools and homes to be built “with the highest seismic safety standards.”

Erdoğan was present at the inauguration of the campus in early 2020 together with his German counterpart Angela Merkel, where the German chancellor spoke about the importance of education for refugees.

“Education is especially valuable for refugees because education gives them hope for a better future – whether after returning home, where they can help with reconstruction, or through good integration into the host society,” she said at the time.

TDU shared the information with its 38-member university consortium across Germany, with several launching fundraising and other support initiatives, Bachmann added.

Canada has announced support measures for temporary residents of Turkey and Syria to help them more easily apply for visa extensions.

“All Turkish universities instantly connected”

A team of British academics from UCL, co-led by Yasemin Didem Aktas from the institution’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, traveled to the region to assess the damage to the buildings.

Bachmann also praised the cohesion of the Turkish higher education system in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

Nearly 1,000 staff and students from Firat University in Elazığ assisted with food distribution, with the institution providing 20 truckloads of supplies, while Abdullah Gül University in Kayseri sheltered around 2,000 victims on campus in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

“All Turkish universities immediately networked and supported each other, taking families from the regions to student dormitories,” Bachmann said.

“For example, they emptied the entire technology hall so they could get refugees there. All the students helped… There was a huge amount of help in Turkish society.”

Donations are still being collected for the crisis:

Non-governmental search and rescue organization, AKUT

Turkish Voluntary Network, Ahbap

Kaplan Fund for Turkey and Syria Earthquake Support for Oxfam

The reaction of IIE Türkiye and Syria


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