Azerbaijan International

Winter 2000 (8.4)
Page 33

Linking Through Education
North Cyprus Aids Azerbaijani Students

Even though Turkish Republic of North Cyprus has limited resources itself, the Turkish Cypriots have found something to offer Azerbaijani youth - a solid education. The government has already provided 21 scholarships to Azerbaijani college students for study at one of their five English-language universities.
"We are granting $7,500 scholarships," Turkish Cypriot Representative to Azerbaijan Ayfer Said Erkman says. "This amount covers tuition, accommodations and airfare." These scholarships, paid for by the Turkish-Cypriot government, are also awarded to students from other Turkic countries, including Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Altogether, the Turkish Cypriot universities have 25,000 students coming from 67 countries and 1,600 professors from 27 countries, including the U.S., England, Taiwan and Turkey.

Photo: Scholarships are offered by the government of North Cyprus for Azerbaijanis to study in English language at five universities.

Erkman, himself a part-time lecturer at one of the universities, says that degrees from North Cyprus universities are accredited and accepted internationally. "Our diplomas are recognized all over the world," he explains. "Anyone who graduates from our universities can easily go on to get their M.A. or Ph.D. in England or the U.S."

To apply for scholarships, prospective students are interviewed in Baku. "We prefer first-year university students," he says. "We're looking for people who have already shown that they can succeed at their studies."

Students can choose from five different universities to in North Cyprus. These universities are located in places such as Famagusta (Magosa), Lefkosa (in Nicosia) and Girne (in Kyrenia). A new campus is currently built by Ankara's Middle East Technical University in the Guzelyurt area (the Greek name for this area is Omorpho). Approximately 22,000 students will be enrolled in this university.

Education as Island's Resource
Beginning in 1986, North Cyprus decided to use universities as a way to draw more revenue to the island. The largest school, Eastern Mediterranean University, was established that year; since then it has educated 14,000 students.

So far, The Turkish-Cypriot government has invested $80 million in the higher education sector of its economy. Erkman believes that this high-level decision is already starting to pay off: "Higher education is a new sector in our economy, and it's already making a significant contribution. The students come here and spend a lot of money in various sectors; plus their families come to visit. They're like permanent tourists."

The fact that university instruction is in English reflects the island's unique history. North Cyprus was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1570-71 and remained under Turkish sovereignty until it was annexed by Great Britain in 1914. The Greek side of the island, which is better known for attracting tourists, only has one university, with instruction in Greek.

Erkman hopes that the connection between Azerbaijan and North Cyprus will one day become more reciprocal: "For the time being, the direction is one-sided - from Azerbaijan to Cyprus. Perhaps in the future we'll find chances to send our students to Azerbaijani universities and develop exchange programs."

For information about scholarships, Azerbaijani applicants should contact:
Ayfer Said Erkmen, Representative
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
69 Fuzuli Street, Level 5
Baku, Azerbaijan
Tel: (99-412) 95-93-51
Fax: (99-412) 93-20-86

Thalassemia Connection
After successfully coping with its own thalassemia problem, Cyprus is now helping Azerbaijan deal with this tragic disease. About 2,000 Azerbaijani children suffer from the genetic blood disorder known as beta thalassemia. To survive, children often require transfusions of two to four liters of blood twice a month. This, in turn, creates another problem caused by excess iron in the blood which must be removed via expensive Desferal treatments. The Cyprus government spends about $10,000 per child each year for this purpose.

In July 2000, Gulnaz Amrahova, President of Azerbaijan's Parents' Association of Thalassemia, was invited to visit Cyprus to learn how this small country is effectively managing the disease by requiring pre-marital testing to see if the spouses carry the thalassemia trait. If so, the couple has the option to terminate a pregnancy if the unborn child is identified with this chronic illness.

In Azerbaijan, and even in the U.S., the life expectancy for thalassemics is relatively low, but Cyprus has had thalassemics live to be 40 to 50 years old, one of the highest rates in the world. Cyprus plans to continue to advise Azerbaijan on this problem. [For more information, SEARCH for "Thalassemia" at]

Azerbaijan International (8.4) Winter 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.

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