Turkey Lifts 'Embargo' on Bulgarian College Diplomas
Turkey's Council of Higher Education has lifted the "embargo" on Bulgarian college diplomas.
The news was reported by the Bulgarian Trud (Labor) daily and has been confirmed by the Education Ministry.
The move is very important for Bulgaria as about 10 000 young Turks are enrolled in Bulgaria colleges and pay tuition fees of EUR 3 000 to EUR 8 000.
At the end of July 2012, on grounds that forgery of exam marks and college diplomas has reached the dimensions of organized crime in Bulgaria, Turkey advised all of its aspiring university students to refrain from applying for Bulgarian schools.
The decision was made by the Turkish Council of Higher Education, the institution accrediting foreign diplomas.
Its official site noted that documents of students from Bulgaria will no longer be legalized. It further warned transfers from Bulgarian colleges to Turkish ones are no longer accepted, while the documents of those who have applied for accreditation will be put on hold.
These warnings were removed later.
When the news emerged in July, Bulgarian university and college presidents asked Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry to send a protest note to Turkey, and to refer the issue to the EU institutions since, in their words, the suspended recognition of Bulgarian diplomas by Turkey is a "violation of the European educational space".
At the time, the Education Minister announced that he has sent an envoy to the Turkish Education Minister but refused to reveal their identity, saying only that they are "a very high-ranking person in Bulgaria."
In October, the Council of Bulgarian College Presidents demanded the recall of Turkish Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ismail Aramaz, after they received from him a letter, asking them to admit "10 facts about education," by declaring publically the existence of substantial and structural problems in Bulgaria's college education, the low level of studies, and the fact that exams are only oral and held only between the student and the educator.
The College Presidents insisted the attack on Bulgarian diplomas stemmed from interests of the increasing number of private colleges in Turkey, which the Turkish State has helped with free land, interest free loans, and tax free import of equipment, but nevertheless these schools struggle for enough enrollment.
In December, the issue was discussed with the President of the Council of Higher Education, Gokhan Cetinkaya, during their recent official visit to Ankara of Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev and then Education Minister, Sergey Ignatov, where Cetinkaya pledged the issue will be resolved in just days.
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