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Study In Turkey : Istanbul’s Top 7 Private Universities

Study In Turkey : Istanbul’s Top 7 Private Universities


Deciding to study in Istanbul is a great choice for students looking for excellent education and a cultural experience. Istanbul has top private universities, each with its own unique curriculum. From the long-established Istanbul University to the modern Istanbul Bilgi University, students have a variety of choices for different programs and research opportunities. In this article, we’ll explore the top seven private universities in Istanbul, campuses, academic programs offered, their global connections, and how they contribute to research. Lastly, Istanbul not only provides a great academic environment but also a chance to explore its rich history, lively arts scene, and diverse lifestyle.

Koç University:

Overview: Koç University, established in 1993, is a non-profit private university located in Istanbul, Turkey.

  • Campus: Started in temporary buildings in İstinye in 1993 and later moved to its Rumelifeneri campus near Sarıyer in 2000.
  • Rankings: Regarded as one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities. Koç University holds the highest rank in the country according to the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 2022 QS World University Rankings.
  • Academic Structure: Comprises various colleges and schools, including the Colleges of Social Sciences and Humanities. Administrative Sciences and Economics, Science, Engineering, Law, Nursing, and Medicine.
  • Programs: Offers a wide range of academic programs, including 22 undergraduate, 29 graduate, and 30 PhD programs.
  • Language of Instruction: The majority of classes (over 95%) are conducted in English, with exceptions in the School of Law and School of Nursing.
  • International Collaboration: Welcomes around 7,000 students, including international students from various countries. Boasts a network of over 250 partner-universities worldwide. Including prestigious institutions like the University of California, Northwestern University, Cornell University, and Georgetown University.
  • Research Excellence: Recognized as one of the leading research universities in Turkey and the region, Koç University aims to be a global center of research influencing intellectual, technological, economic, and social developments globally.
  • Research Achievements: Holds a significant record in research awards, including being the top recipient of TÜBİTAK research awards. Also its a prominent player in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding scheme.
  • Facilities: Lastly, Boasts 132 research laboratories, 20 research centers, and 5 research and education forums, providing a robust infrastructure for academic and research activities.

Sabancı University:

Establishment: Sabancı University, founded in 1994, is a young foundation university situated on a vast 1.26 million square-meter campus approximately 40 km from Istanbul’s city center.

  • Inauguration: The university’s first students enrolled in 1999, and the inaugural academic session commenced on October 20, 1999.
  • Foundation Leadership: Guided by the Sabancı Foundation, under the Sabancı Group. The university’s establishment involved collaboration among more than 50 academics from 22 countries, students, and industry leaders.
  • Academic Divisions: Sabancı University comprises three faculties and a language school:
    • Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences (FENS)
    • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
    • Sabancı Business School (SBS)
    • School of Languages
  • Recognition: University Entered Times Higher Education rankings in 182nd position in 2014. ranking 10th worldwide in THE’s list of small universities in 2016, and placing among the top 10,000 globally in QS World University Rankings.
  • Innovation: Recognized as the most innovative and entrepreneurial university multiple times by the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology’s University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Index.
  • Research Centers: Lastly, Home to the Sabancı University Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Research and Application Center (SU IMC), a $35 million investment supporting research, product development, and commercialization opportunities in composite manufacturing technologies.

Beykent University

Establishment: Istanbul Beykent University (BU) is one of the first foundation universities in Turkey, founded in 1997 by the Adem Çelik-Beykent Education Foundation.

  • Legal Status: Established with the law numbered 4282 in 1997, BU gained public legal personality.
  • Academic Programs: Offers 61 undergraduate, 75 associate, and 55 graduate programs across 1 institute, 9 faculties, 1 vocational school, 3 colleges, and 10 research centers.
  • Student Body: As of 2020, BU has 30,000 students and 55,000 graduates.
  • Name Change: The university’s name was changed to Istanbul Beykent University by law no. 7437, published on February 9, 2023.
  • Campuses:
    • Ayazağa-Maslak Campus serves the Rectorate, Faculty of Engineering-Architecture, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Faculty of Communication.
    • Beylikdüzü Campus includes the Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Science and Letters, and more.
    • Hadımköy Campus houses the Vocational School (Technical Programs) and the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences.
    • Taksim Campus, located in Beyoğlu district, hosts only the Faculty of Law.
  • Transportation: Each campus is accessible by various public transportation options.
  • Libraries: Four libraries are available across Ayazağa, Beylikdüzü, Hadımköy, and Taksim campuses.
  • International Engagement: Lastly, BU is an ERASMUS program partner with 128 universities globally, a member of the Caucasus Universities Association, and holds accreditation and memberships reflecting compatibility with international standards such as the Bologna Process and the British Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Arel University

Private UniversitiesEstablishment: Istanbul Arel University, a private nonprofit institution, was founded in 2007 by the Kemal Gözükara Education and Culture Foundation.

  • Educational Spectrum Expansion: Originating from Arel College in 1990, the institution expanded its educational offerings, including the Arel Pre-School, Primary School, Anatolian High School, Science High School, and Sports and Culture Complex.
  • University Level Transition: After 26 years of operation, the institution transitioned to the university level, leading to the establishment of Istanbul Arel University.
  • Leadership: Oezguer Goezuekara, son of the benefactor, has been the Chairman of the Board of Trustees since 2018, working alongside Hilmi Ibar to build an international network.
  • International Collaborations: Successfully established agreements, such as with DHBW Loerrach in December 2018, focusing on student and professorial exchanges and collaborative educational projects.
  • Campus Location: Situated in Büyükçekmece, Istanbul, the university’s campus serves as the hub for its academic activities.
  • Academic Units: Lastly, The university comprises faculties including Medicine, Art and Science, Visual Arts, Economics and Administrative Science, Communication, Engineering Science and Architecture, as well as Schools, Vocational School, and Institutes offering master’s programs and correspondence courses in Applied Science, Social Science, and Health Sciences.

Kültür University

Private UniversitiesEstablishment: Istanbul Kültür University (IKU) is a private foundation university established on July 9, 1997, in Bakırköy, Istanbul.

  • Campuses: IKU operates on four campuses: Ataköy, Şirinevler, İncirli, and Basın Ekspres. The university hosted a total of 15,116 students during the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Educational Philosophy: The university’s fundamental principle is to raise Ataturkist students. emphasizing Atatürk’s principles and revolutions, guided by reason and science.
  • Faculties and Programs: IKU conducts academic and scientific activities across 57 departments in faculties such as Education. Arts and Sciences, Art and Design, Law, Economics and Administrative Sciences, Architecture, Engineering, and Health Sciences.
  • Postgraduate Education: Provides postgraduate education with 54 master’s and 11 doctoral programs through the Graduate School of Education.
  • Research Centers: Engages in research activities through centers like AGMER, ATAMER, R&D Center. CEHAMER, FİHAMER, GEOMER, GSUAM, İKÜ-HAM, İKÜSEM, İKÜTÜMER, PDR, and UZEMER.
  • International Programs: Offers Erasmus and International Exchange Programs. Enabling students to study in 27 EU countries with a valid diploma under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
  • Campus Facilities: The university operates on four campuses, each housing specific faculties and schools, with transportation facilitated by ring services.
  • Student Services: Lastly, Provides various on-campus services, including food options. While organizing bus services for students commuting from Kadıköy and Bostancı to the Bakırköy Sea Bus pier.

Istanbul Medipol University:

Establishment: Istanbul Medipol University, a private institution in Istanbul, Turkey. It was founded in 2009 by the Turkey Education Health and Research Foundation.

  • Academic Structure: The university comprises 12 faculties, 5 institutes, and 4 vocational colleges. Along with a total of 37,051 registered students, including undergraduate, graduate. and associate degree students, as well as 2,854 foreign students.
  • Language of Instruction: Istanbul Medipol University offers 71 undergraduate programs, including 24 taught in English, across various faculties.
  • Recognition and Memberships: Moreover, The Faculty of Law is a member of the European Law Faculties Association since 2015. Also, the university joined the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) in 2023.
  • Student Life: With 100 active student clubs, the university fosters social, cultural, scientific, and personal development alongside academic education.
  • Campuses: Education is conducted in Kavacık North, Kavacık South, and Haliç Campuses. with practical courses and internships held at the Medipol Mega University Hospital.
  • Library Resources: Libraries across campuses house extensive resources, including 80,683 printed books. 96 printed journals, 434 theses, 721,831 electronic books, 60,435 electronic journals, 38 databases, and 632 DVD collections.
  • International Rankings: Lastly, In global university rankings, Istanbul Medipol University is positioned at 969th in RUR World (2022), 1201+ in THE World (2022), and 401+ in THE Young Universities (2022). In QS World University Rankings 2024, it is ranked 351-400 on EECA Rankings and 601+ in Europe University Rankings. The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities Ranking 2023 places it at 1886th globally and 918th in “Clinical Medicine.” Round University Ranking 2022 ranks it at 969th globally.

Istanbul Bilgi University

  • Istanbul Bilgi University (BİLGİ) is a foundation university founded on June 7, 1996, in Istanbul, Turkey. It has campuses in Santralistanbul, Kuştepe, and Dolapdere.
  • The university offers over 150 programs across 8 faculties, 3 institutes, and 3 vocational schools. Vocational schools cover Justice, General Vocational, and Health Services.
  • Faculties include Law, Communication, Management, Architecture, Engineering and Natural Sciences, Health Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Institutes encompass Graduate Programs, European Union, and Information Technology and Technology Law.
  • Bilgi University collaborates with the University of London, allowing students to pursue Honors Programs with dual diplomas.
  • The Tatilistanbul campus, spanning 118,000 m², features contemporary art galleries, recognized internationally for architecture awards.
  • Lastly, Awards include the International Architecture Awards in 2010, the DASA Award in 2012 for the Energy Museum, and the 2018 International Architecture Award for the restored boiler room building used by the Faculty of Architecture.
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