Vanguard of Turkish students to arrive Oct. 14 to open new international era at FHSU

Thirty-seven freshmen and two staff members from Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey, will arrive at Fort Hays State University on Saturday, Oct. 14, to begin a year's training in English and, incidentally, begin an exciting new chapter in FHSU's international programs.

The Bahcesehir (pronounced BAHkahSHAHhere) students are participants in the first of five programs with Turkish educational entities. This one is an English as second language program. Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, said that some of the students arriving Oct. 14 may take other courses in the spring of 2007, depending on how quickly their skills in English develop.

The students and the staff members will stay in FHSU's new Stadium Place apartments, said Gould. Bahcesehir has already paid $100,000 in rent, he said.

"They will not be living in a block by themselves," said Gould. "They will live with each other and other American students in individual apartments, but the apartments won't all be together. Bahcesehir told us they wanted the students to be spread out among American students so they can learn the language and culture."

FHSU formally signed a cooperative agreement with Bahcesehir University in late 2005. Officials from the university visited Hays in January of this year.

A memorandum of understanding is also in effect for another partnership program with Bahcesehir, a summer session program for the bachelor of general studies degree. In this two-year program, FHSU faculty will travel to Turkey to teach 50 students in Istanbul. The summer after that, the students will come to Hays. With the addition of 12 hours of distance learning from FHSU over the two years, the students will complete 30 FHSU credit hours which, with 94 credits from Bahcesehir, will earn the students the B.G.S. degree.

A third partnership with Bahcesehir is in negotiation, a two-plus-two program in which Bahcesehir students will take two years there and two years through FHSU in various bachelor's degree programs.

Two other initiatives are also in process, one with the Turkish Ministry of Education and one with Kampus International, an English as second language school in Turkey that wants to place 1,000 students in FHSU distance education programs.

"These are people who have jobs, including some legislators there, who need a full four-year degree," said Gould, describing the kind of students Kampus International seeks to place with FHSU.

The Ministry of Education program could send as many as 265 Turkish students to Hays. The motivation for this Turkish government program, said Gould, is that 1.2 million Turkish students each year qualify for higher education, but there are only 216,000 seats available for them in Turkish colleges and universities. The country needs people trained in higher education in order to begin expanding the higher education opportunities, so the government has instituted a program to provide 1,000 full-ride scholarships each year for the next five years. These are for master's and doctoral level students.

FHSU, he said, shared this opportunity with Kansas' other Board of Regents institutions. FHSU has filed a formal letter with the ministry agreeing to take as many as 265 students beginning in the fall of 2007. Two other Regents schools -- Kansas State University and Pittsburg State University -- have also filed letters with the ministry, said Gould.

Although willing to enroll up to 265 master's level students, he said, FHSU would be happy to be assigned 50-100 of the Ministry of Education graduate scholarship recipients.

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