UED President, Eren Göker, presented the survey results at the first day of the ST Alphe Istanbul agent conference on March 31st, and also revealed that numbers choosing to study in the USA and Australia were decreasing.
The survey was completed by all 41 UED members who represent 55 per cent of the market share in Turkey. Agents reported that the UK was the most requested language destination for Turkish students, attracting 40 per cent of students, while the next most popular countries were Ireland and Canada, accounting for 13 per cent and 12 per cent of students respectively. These were followed by Malta (nine per cent), the USA (nine) and Australia (six).
In UED's previous 2015 survey, Ireland commanded only four per cent market share, while Canada had eight per cent. In full-year data for 2016 released recently by Ireland's language school association Marketing English in Ireland (MEI), the number of Turkish students increased by 15 per cent to 1,148, compared with the previous year.
Gokhan Islamoglu, Coordinator at UED, said that economic factors, although significant, weren't the only factors influencing students' decisions about where to study. "Of course economic factors are important but Turkish parents and students have concerns about the USA due to visa problems and the election of President Trump and are choosing to go to Canada instead," he said.
"Language programmes in Ireland have been growing in popularity since 2009 and every year more Turkish students have a better idea about Ireland and what's on offer there. It's a process and I think higher education providers in Ireland will also start to see the potential in the Turkish market in the future," he added.
The UK is historically popular with younger aged Turkish students who choose to study on short-stay summer programmes - 49 per cent of under-18s in Turkey chose the UK in 2016.
The higher education sector is also an important one in Turkey with agents reporting that 17 per cent of study placements were for postgraduate studies last year and 18 per cent were for undergraduate studies, compared with 43 per cent for language studies.
For the higher education sector the UK, Australia and Canada were the top destinations, although Eren pointed out that this was for postgraduate studies only and that Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic were the most popular destinations for undergraduate studies, mainly due to their low course costs. He added that most of these students went to the institutions directly as universities in these countries don't tend to use agents.
The survey also revealed that 80 per cent of Turkish agents attend agent workshops and 35 per cent of school partners were found via this method.
By Bethan Norris
Additional reporting by Matthew Knott