Wiebke Hohberger
2016/17 Mercator-IPC Fellow

Wiebke Hohberger is currently in the final stage of her PhD in European and Turkish history at Hamburg University. In her doctoral thesis, she analyses Turkey’s role in the Council of Europe in terms of social constructions of European identity. In addition to her academic focus on past and present Turkish-European/German relations, she is particularly interested in current issues of integration policies as well as forms of political Islam. She holds an MA in Contemporary History, Political Science, and Islamic Science from the University of Münster and studied International Relations at Marmara University, Istanbul.

Wiebke is a fellow of the Turkey Europe Future Forum of Stiftung Mercator – a program promoting interaction among young (potential) leaders from Germany, Turkey, and other European countries to exchange ideas on Europe’s future. In the last eight years, she has been involved in several voluntary projects supporting refugees and migrants in Germany. As a Mercator-IPC Fellow, she will focus on the field of higher education for Syrian university students.

Syrian Students at Turkish Universities: Current Efforts in the Field of Higher Education

Turkey currently hosts approximately three million Syrians. It is to be expected that a high number of these “guests under temporary protection” will turn into long-term citizens. Therefore, national and international actors are increasingly making efforts to support their integration into Turkish society, especially in the field of education. Although representing only some 3% of the total number of university-aged Syrians in Turkey, the number of Syrian students at Turkish universities has reached almost 15,000.

This research project examines the current situation of Syrians in the field of higher education. Research questions thereby concern the conditions of enrollment, opportunities for financial support in the form of scholarships, language support, and special orientation programs on campus. Conversational interviews with Syrian students conducted at Turkish universities additionally reveal Syrian students’ perspective on the different efforts made in the field of higher education so far. Their feedback as well as their remarks on their needs, not least, enables the development of policy recommendations to both universities and external state and non-state actors.