The majority of 150,000 international students and particularly those form Middle Eastern countries undertaking studies in various Turkish educational institutions have preferred to stay back and continue their studies amid the lockdown enforced due to the global coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.

Since most of the universities in Turkey have started online classes, the students sitting back in their dormitories have remained busy with their assignments and projects.

Education officials confirmed to Anadolu Agency that international students have been put in state-run dormitories under strict restrictions to obey safety measures like social distancing etc. to stem the spread of the virus.

“The online education system is good, however, there are some practical classes that cannot be done via the online system,” said Lama, a Palestinian student at Ankara University.

Another student Hamza from Yemen, studying economics, spends his time reading and performing some sports activity at the dormitory.

“The online education system is fine, we follow our homework through the internet, yet, I want to return to normal classes soon, where there is real interaction between the students and the teachers,” he said.

Hamza added that the dormitory management has taken elaborate measures to disinfect rooms to prevent the spreading of infections among international students.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Head of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) Abdullah Eren said his organization is working with the government to address the requirements of scholarship holders. YTB is an official body that supervises 15,000 international students, studying in Turkish universities on scholarships.

“YTB continues to follow and be in close communication with all students staying in dormitories, a quick response, and the management team is constantly following up with students’ issues and inquiries, making sure their needs are met throughout the quarantine process,” he said.

YTB arranges online recreation

Iraqi student Arkan enrolled in Islamic theology and religious studies at Ankara University said the dormitories have restricted their movement and they are not allowed to go outside. “We understand this is for our safety. We have been placed in a state-run dormitory with all the safety and health measures,” he said.

About his schedule, he said that he is dividing the day between studying, working on projects, and doing sports activities as there are some sports facilities in the dormitory.

Eren said that the YTB is coordinating with relevant institutions in the field of accommodation, education, and health to make sure that international students are taken care of.

He said the organization was arranging cultural activities, concerts, and seminars online to keep the students busy.

“YTB has developed online activities during this period. The International Student Academy programs are currently also continuing online, where students conduct online teleconference sessions with their respective trainers,” he added.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, Turkey has so far reported 117,500 infected cases with 3000 deaths.

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