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Germany

Broadening Horizons while Studying

A new private university with a difference will be opening its doors in Berlin in autumn. The ambitious project hopes to take the German-Turkish relationship a step further.

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The university lays emphasis on exchange between students

Private institutions of higher education offering international courses in English aren’t a novelty in Germany anymore. So the announcement of yet another private school called the Ota Hochschule in Berlin shouldn’t really raise much interest in the city.

But if the founder is of Turkish origin and his goal to improve the future perspectives of young people - especially social and ethnic groups that have barriers to overcome – the school definitely makes one sit up and take notice in Berlin.

A Turk who challenges old notions

"We do underline the German-Turkish aspect in our international profile. It definitely is an important topic," the Rector of the Ota Hochschule and former President of the Berlin School of Economics, Jürgen Kunze told DW-WORLD.

The founder, Erman Tanyildiz, who came to Berlin several decades ago also defies the clichés that unfortunately still persist in Germany to a large extent about Turkish nationals - of them being kebab sellers, grocers or the like.

Tanyildiz, who speaks perfect German, graduated in industrial engineering at the Technical University in Berlin and was a successful self-employed entrepreneur and headed several companies in the fields of welding and plastics engineering.

In 1993, he founded the OTA-Tanyildiz foundation for professional education, which is the main sponsor of the Ota University.

International and flexible

But the Ota university is keen not to just play the German-Turkish card. It prides itself on its international profile.

The university which will opens its doors in autumn this year in the Lichtenberg district of Berlin will start by offering Bachelors’ degrees in Business Administration and Information and Communication.

The first 80 students who are selected will not be charged any tuition fees as "pioneers". Later fees will cost about 500 euro per month. The school also gradually plans to take in up to 1,500 students.

The Ota university promises to lay emphasis on practical work, flexible and diverse courses, student councils for study groups, more networking and internships in companies during the course of studies.

The university’s website says that applicants must be independent, curious and open for new communication techniques and teamwork.

Studying in Germany made easier for Turkish students

But perhaps more important is the fact that the university wants to try to improve the German-Turkish relationship. The university hopes to lure more Turkish students living in Germany and hopes that Turkish students form up to one fifth of the student population.

Rector Jürgen Kunze says that one way of attracting more Turkish students from Turkey is by offering international degrees taught in English.

"A lot of Turkish students today prefer to go to the US or to another English-speaking country to study. In the past Germany used to be the prime destination for Turkish students, but today it’s English that everybody wants to learn", he told DW-WORLD.

As an important first step in drawing Turkish students to the university, the OTA foundation also plans to open a one-year Studienkolleg or a preparatory course in Istanbul where Turkish students who have completed school in Germany, can get their secondary school diplomas certified without needing to travel to Germany.

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