YÖS exam: students’ biggest obstacle to higher education in northern Aleppo

An announcement date for the YÖS exam of the Turkish Gaziantep University (Enab Baladi)

An announcement date for the YÖS exam of the Turkish Gaziantep University (Enab Baladi)


Syrian students in northern rural Aleppo, wishing to enroll at Gaziantep University, complain that they must take the YÖS exam, an entrance examination for international students in Turkey. This exam is required as an entrance condition by the only recognized university in northern Syria.

Gaziantep University

On 4 October 2019, Gaziantep University, located in the south-eastern Turkish province of the same name, announced the establishment of three faculties in northern Aleppo countryside by decree of the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The presidential decree was published in the Turkish Official Gazette, Resmi Gazete, and provided for the founding of three faculties in three Syrian towns: The Faculty of Administrative Sciences and Economics in al-Bab, the Faculty of Education in Afrin, and the Islamic Studies Faculty in Azaz.

The university also established Jarablus Vocational Training School in northern rural Aleppo in June 2019.

Due to the high demand of Syrian students, the Turkish university has provided some departments teaching in Arabic since 2015, including Economics, Sharia, Business Administration, Civil Engineering, and Classroom Teaching.

Through its program “What is your problem”—the program is broadcast on Enab Baladi‘s social media platforms every Friday and Monday—Enab Baladi surveyed a proportion of students in northern Aleppo countryside, about the difficulties they face to pass the YÖS exam.

According to the survey, Syrian students who finished high school, prepare for the YÖS exam as a prerequisite for admission to the Turkish University of Gaziantep in the northern countryside of Aleppo for a period between one and two years, delaying their entrance to the university.

Moreover, Turkey and several other countries acknowledge the diplomas certified by Gaziantep University. Its graduates are viewed just like the graduates of Turkish public universities; however, the same situation does not apply to most universities spreading in northern Syria, which do not require the YÖS exam.

Furthermore, the tuition fees of the Turkish University of Gaziantep are lower in comparison to the Syrian private universities’ in the Syrian opposition-controlled areas, which is a good advantage for the students. However, students have to make more efforts to meet all the requirements of admission at Gaziantep University.

Difficult curriculum

The YÖS exam is considered equivalent to the general high school certificate of international students, and like the university entrance exam, which Turkish students take at the high schools.

YÖS exam consists of 80 mathematical questions in geometry, algebra, and the so-called IQ test (general ability and intelligence questions) that must be solved within 135 minutes, and the questions come in both languages, Turkish and English.

According to the survey of Enab Baladi‘s program, students who finished high school, the literary branch, complain about their inability to solve the YÖS exam questions.

The students of the literary branch find difficulties passing the YÖS exam, for it is based mainly on mathematics, which makes the YÖS course lasts for two years. Moreover, students must pay the registration fees to undertake the YÖS exam.

Moreover, centers specialized in YÖS preparation courses in northern Syria are not allocating adequate time to the classes, according to the persons surveyed by Enab Baladi.

They said the YÖS centers lack teaching competencies capable of delivering the YÖS course to students preparing for university admission.

YÖS certificate is well worth the efforts

Rasem al-Ibish, a teacher at Gaziantep University, did not deny the difficulty of the YÖS curriculum, especially for the literary branch students. However, he stressed that the YÖS certificate has way more benefits than mere university registration.

Al-Ibish told Enab Baladi that the YÖS certificate is internationally recognized. In Turkey, it is a requirement by Turkish universities administrations for all international students wishing to pursue higher education.

Al-Ibish pointed out that 1,200 students received YÖS certificates in the last year, and that about 800 of them were admitted to the Gaziantep University north of Aleppo province.

Meanwhile, the increasing number of Turkish universities established in northern rural Aleppo magnified the importance of the YÖS exam in the region. Among these universities is the Harran University in the al-Bab city, in addition to the Turkish government promises to open a university in Afrin city.


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