Neslihan Ҫebi and the relevance of Turkish market for Italy

Neslihan Ҫebi and the relevance of the Turkish market for Italy

Neslihan Ҫebi and the relevance of theTurkish market for Italy

 

Firenze Eğitim, or in its internationalised form, Firenze Education, is an Italian language school and agency that promotes Italian universities in Turkey. At the moment Firenze features over 40 partnerships with Italian state and non-state universities. Every year they organise the “Study in Italy Days“, the largest exhibition abroad dedicated to Italian universities, which in 2022 will reach its fourth edition.

Monsuni:

Welcome to our blog, Neslihan, and thanks for your time. Could you please touch upon the relevance of the Turkish market for the Italian higher education sector, broadly speaking?

Neslihan:

My pleasure.  In Turkey, the interest in Italy has always been very lively, both for the shared Mediterranean culture and for the many opportunities that the Italian educational system offers. In the early 2000s, most of the interest was for some private universities that offered courses delivered in English. Over the past decade, with the increase in the number of degree programs offered in English, demand has increased dramatically. Let us not forget that the Turkish lira has devalued by 400% against the euro and the dollar since 2015 with a significant loss in the purchasing power of Turkish families abroad. For this reason, the many students who first aimed at the world of Anglo-Saxon universities have veered towards Italy. The country offers a high level of education at an acceptable cost. The same private Italian universities are decidedly cheaper than almost all universities in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Monsuni:

Firenze was founded in 1995, how has the world of recruiting international students changed in these years?

Neslihan:

In the 90s, high school in Turkey ended with a total of 11 years of schooling. This did not allow students to enrol in three-year degree programs and the demand was mainly for students interested in master’s degrees and/or Italian language courses. It was in those years that we made the first agreements with our long-standing partners such as Istituto Marangoni. The subsequent opening of Italian universities towards internationalization has allowed us to build success around the Study in Italy. What started out as a ‘wager’, a niche market, has become practically mainstream and to this day, many Turkish students choose Italy for their studies.

Monsuni:

Yours is a particular story, as you and your husband met as students in Italy: then what happened?

Neslihan:

Well yes, my husband and I were both in Italy, right in Florence. Hence the name of our institute, our agency. He was there to study the Italian language and I was there for a master’s degree. Florence is not huge: at that time the Turkish students in Italy were few and we knew each other. We fell in love first with Italy and then with each other. Back in Turkey we tried to convey this love to those around us and then to all the students of Turkey.

Monsuni:

This is fascinating. Can you tell us what are the main destinations for Turkish students? What is the positioning of the Italian university system, and its reputation in Turkey?

Neslihan:

The Italian university system is continuing to make itself known more and more every day. Although there has been a huge increase in appeal in recent years, it still has a large margin of growth. At the moment it is definitely the first destination in Europe, and among the top five in the world. In terms of reputation, there is nothing to say: Italy has the most ancient universities in the world while in some sectors it is a cultural point of reference (Food, Art, Fashion, Cars, Design). The Made in Italy and everything that represents Italy in the international cultural imagination is also reflected in the choices of students and their families. Italy is the place to study Architecture, Design, Fashion and much more. In terms of destinations within Italy, the choice falls very often on Milan, the ‘queen’, that goes unopposed… perhaps because it looks very much like Istanbul. A little ‘upper class’, I mean,  and students find environments that are already quite used to attending. The other favourite cities are Turin, Rome, Padua and Bologna. To a lesser extent Venice, Florence and the South in general.

Monsuni:

How’s the market today, and which institutions do you work with?

Neslihan:

The demand is constantly increasing, so we find it hard to keep up with the demands of the students. We have official partnerships with over 40 universities and academies of Italian fine arts, not counting language schools or business schools. Not only do we help students in the orientation and completion of the procedures, but we also help the universities themselves in the organization of promotions events on-site and help them to make agreements of various kinds with Turkish universities (Erasmus, double degree etc.).

Mounsuni:

How is your marketing organised to inform Prospective Turkish students of your partners’ courses?

Neslihan:

Let’s say that word of mouth is still strong. Most of our students get there because some of their friends or acquaintances are now in Italy thanks to us. Since we’ve been doing this since 1995, it’s the most common thing. We try to make presentations online or in presence at Turkish high school or university, where we think there may be a particular interest in Italy. During the year we also organise many activities such as workshops, open days, webinars in collaboration with universities’ Italian allowing students to interact directly with representatives of universities’. This type of activity is very useful for the student because it can collect all the information necessary to choose the best future. Let us not forget that they do not only choose a university or a city but a complete package that will influence their future. They are really very demanding and precise in this regard. After so many years of such activities with the representatives of the universities’ who came in person to Turkey to meet the students, We decided to channel it all into an activity that we can define as ‘fair’ but that in reality is different from the classic event ‘open doors and all inside”. Usually, during our Study in Italy Days, students can book a free appointment with the university of interest and the degree course of interest. In this sense, the university meets only really interested students and manages to dedicate the right time to them. In the 2021 edition of Study in Italy Days, we had 33 universities participants that are really many. We hope they can be more and more.

Monsuni:

Thanks so much for joining us, we learned a lot. And finger crossed your 33 universities will soon double up!

Neslihan:

My pleasure, and good luck with your blog!

 

 

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