Implications of the unrest in Turkey for student recruitment from Turkey
While the demonstrations are ongoing and the results still uncertain, there are some pointers for the international education student recruitment industry:
Traditional Media: For several years now the Turkish media has effectively been shackled, with dissenting newspapers facing crippling fines for daring to oppose the government. So it is not surprising that TV and Newspapers massively failed to cover the protests, largely following the government narrative or ignoring what is happening. If young Turkish people were already infrequent readers of traditional print media, the current unrest has only confirmed that newspapers are generally under government control, and to be avoided. Established TV channels have shown themselves to be unwilling or afraid to do anything other than follow the government line.
Social media: The only way young people have been able to quickly communicate and broadcast within Turkey and to the outside world has been through Facebook and Twitter. As usual, the government has blamed the medium (eg Twitter) for carrying the message (about corruption, police brutality and creeping islamification). As has happened in other countries facing demonstrations or upheaval, ‘foreign elements’ have been blamed. The increase in use of ‘smart’ phones and social media does highlight that using Social Media is easily more important than print media to reach the target segment for study abroad.
Learning English / Studying Abroad: State control of the media has frustrated millions of Turkish people who saw that their protests (whether demonstrations or pot-banging on the balcony) were going on unreported. In turn people were keen for the outside world to understand what the protests were all about – meaning that posting/tweeting or publishing adverts in international press had to be done in English. So, there will have been a massive realisation that not having the ability to communicate in English leaves one at a disadvantage compared to being bilingual, and that those with an awareness of international media, legal and political systems are better off than those without.