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Istanbul (0212 / 0216)


Istanbul is the 5th largest city in the world, the second largest metropolitan area in Europe, the largest city in Turkey and is Turkey’s cultural, economic, and financial center. It officially has a population of 12.8 million people, but this only includes the registered inhabitants within the city borders. When counting the total urban sprawl, as well as including the city’s approximately two million students and those people who live in Istanbul but are registered elsewhere, the number may reach as high as 18 million. The city finds itself both in Europe (Thrace) and in Asia (Anatolia), thereby being the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. In 1985 Istanbul’s historical sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and in 2010 the city was European Capital of Culture.

Most cultural activities in Istanbul are concentrated in the European side of the city, especially in the Beyoglu and Taksim areas, and in richer neighborhoods where Istanbul’s higher educated population lives. According to the SICA ‘Offshore’ database, in the years 2007-2009 there were 112 Dutch cultural activities in Beyoglu, 27 in the rest of the European side of the city and 2 on the Asian side. The main center for culture and art on the Asian side of Istanbul is Kadiköy. Even though most Istanbul residents live on the Asian side of the city, they usually go to the European side for cultural activities.

In the STGM database a total of 1658 NGO’s was listed in Istanbul. 98 of these were dedicated to education and youth, 107 to culture and 14 to arts.

Istanbul also has links with Holland in several ways. The conservative municipality of Fatih, which includes the touristic and historic centre of Istanbul, has a city-link with the Dutch town Zoetermeer. Since 2004, there have also been 11 school projects which were realized in collaboration with Dutch schools. Kartal Anatolian high school (in the Kartal district of Istanbul) has had several projects with a Dutch school in Uden.


Istanbul has 7 State universities and 17 private universities. The number of private universities is growing fast. Of all the universities the following are the most important for the cultural sector:


Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ)

Istanbul Technical University was established in 1773 and is one of the most prominent educational institutions in Turkey. Istanbul Technical University has 4 different campuses on the European side of Istanbul. İTÜ has a State Conservatory of Turkish Classical Music, an Advanced Musical Sciences Research Institute and departments teaching Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning, Industrial & Product Design, Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Textile Engineering, Fashion Design, Textile Development and Management of these disciplines. Instruction is both in Turkish and English (circa 70% Turkish and 30% English). Delft University has collaborated with ITÜ, specifically with the departments of Architecture and Industrial Design.


Marmara University

Marmara University was established in 1883 and is the second largest university in Turkey. The English level of its students is good and many staff members have received their education abroad. The Marmara University campus is located on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Marmara University has a Faculty of Fine Arts. In the past it has had Erasmus/Socrates exchanges with the AKI/ArtEZ Academy of Visual Arts and Design, Hogeschool Drenthe/Drenthe University Applied Sciences, Fontys Hogescholen, Hanzehogeschool Groningen/Hanze University Groningen, Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten/Royal Academy of Art, NHL University in Leeuwarden and the Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden.


Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts

Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts was founded in 1882 as the ‘School of Fine Arts’ by the renowned Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey, who was also an art historian, archaeologist and museum curator. In 1928 the school was officially turned into an art academy, the first academy in Turkey. On July 20, 1982, its status was changed, and the academy became ‘Mimar Sinan University’, in 2003 changing into ‘Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts’ named after the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. As for its academic departments, the university has a Faculty of Natural Sciences and Literature (a.o. history of art), Faculty of Fine Arts (photography, traditional Turkish handicrafts, graphic design, sculpture, painting, stage design and stage clothes, ceramics art and glass art, cinema and TV, textile design and fashion design, bookbinding, tile restoration, calligraphy, rug and old textile design), a Faculty of Architecture (industrial design, interior decoration, architecture, urban planning and regional planning), a State Conservatory (music, musicology, performing arts) and a Vocational School (textile design, architectural restoration). The Mimar Sinan University is located in the Fındıklı neighborhood on the European side of Istanbul.

In case of projects, the university has access to spaces of the Nusretiye Palace, Museum of Painting and Sculpture Istanbul and the Tophane-i Amire Cultural Center.


Yıldız Technical University

Yıldız Technical University was founded in 1911. It is a technical university dedicated to engineering sciences and is one of the most prominent educational institutions in Istanbul. It has a Faculty of Literature and National Culture Studies, a Faculty of Arts and Science (including performing arts) and a Faculty of Architecture. The central campus lies within the Beşiktaş district.


Private Universities

Istanbul Bilgi University

Istanbul Bilgi University is a non-profit university in Istanbul, established in 1994. Bilgi has a faculty of Communication (Art Management, Cultural Management, Film and Television, Management of Performing Arts, Media and Communication Systems, Photography and Video, Television Reporting and Programming, Visual Communication Design) a school of Advanced Vocational Studies (Design and Printing-Publishing, Online Journalism and Publishing, Photography and Video, Radio and Television Programming). The Master programs Bilgi offers are an MArch in Architectural Design, MA in Cultural Studies, MA in Cultural Management and an MA in Film and Television. The film department team was disbanded by the rector in 2005. Bilgi offers Arts and Culture scholarships. Student clubs at Bilgi include: Art Club, Cinema at Bilgi Club, Dance Club, Theatre Candela and Theatre Triole.

In 2007 Bilgi opened a modern arts museum, named Santralistanbul, which hosts conferences, seminars and exhibitions. Bilgi has 3 campus locations: Dolapdere, Kuştepe and the SantralIstanbul campus, all on the European side.


Kadir Has University

Kadir Has University (KHU/KHAS) was founded in 1997. Kadir Has University's central campus is located at Cibali, neighboring the Golden Horn. It has departments for design and arts, film and drama. Kadir Has’ partners in the Netherlands are Hogeschool Zeeland, Hogeschool Leiden, Windesheim University and De Haagse Hogeschool.


Koç University

Koç University is a private, non-profit institution, founded in 1993. The University is supported by the financial resources of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, set up by Vehbi Koç, a leading Turkish businessman. It teaches History of Art and Cultural Heritage Management (MA) and has a newly established department of Media and Visual Arts. 95% of the faculty members have received their degrees from American or European Universities. Koç University's education is in English, and open to international collaboration. Film screenings, artist/designer/performers workshops, creative project proposals, book arts projects, media and visual arts projects are welcome for the coming years. Students interact and work with cultural representatives via elective courses, guest speakers and clubs. The on campus Sevgi Gönül Cultural Center hosts international artists. The University has several partners in the Netherlands. Koç University campus is located in Sariyer, the most northern district on the European side.


Sabancı University

Sabancı University (SU) is a private research institution founded in 1996. All students experience a two-tier common program that exposes them to a broad variety of disciplines and approaches. The courses in the first tier assist students in acquiring interdisciplinary thinking skills and a holistic knowledge base as well as discipline-specific content. The second tier is the Faculty Courses, which familiarize students with the undergraduate programs to assist them in their choice of field at the end of the second year. Students declare majors in their field of interest and choice after the experience of a two-year-based curriculum. Delayed major declaration enables more informed and mature career decisions. English is the language of instruction at Sabancı University. The main campus is located in Tuzla. In the faculty of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences students can enroll classes in Cultural Studies (MA), Visual Arts and Communications Design (MA) and there is also a Minor Honors Program in Art Theory and Criticism. Sabancı University campus also contains the Sabancı Performing Arts Center (SGM), a concert and performing arts venue with a thousand seats. Finished in 2004, SGM has since hosted both nationally and internationally famed orchestras, bands and other performances. The Sakıp Sabancı Museum (SSM), located on the European side of the city in the district Sariyer, is part of Sabancı University and therefore also functions as an educational institution. Educational programs at various levels are held in the museum, and during the weekends it hosts musical events.


Yeditepe University

Yeditepe University was founded in 1996 by the Istanbul Education and Culture Foundation, which seeks to promote educational opportunities on a non-profit basis. Yeditepe University now claims to be the largest of the 27 foundation universities in Turkey. It has 74 professional labs belonging to the Fine Arts, Architecture, Communication, Engineering and Sciences Faculties, 2 professional photographic studios, a conference hall with a 1200-person seating capacity, a cinema complex with a 100-person seating capacity, a theatre hall with a 100-person seating capacity, two professionally equipped television studios of 524 square meter and 384 square meter, a 200 square meters educational TV studio lab and 150 square meter of educational radio facilities. With the exception of a few, such as the program of art and design which is taught in Italian, most academic programs are offered in English. For the cultural field the Faculty of Fine Arts, Faculty of Communications and the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture are relevant. Yeditepe University is located in Kayısdağı on the Asian side.


Bahçeşehir University

Bahçeşehir University was founded in 1998. The University has 2 campuses; the Beşiktaş Campus includes the Faculty of Communication (Visual Arts & Visual Communication Design, Advertising, Film & Television Journalism, Photography & Video) and the Faculty of Architecture & Design (Interior Architecture, Environmental Planning, Architecture and Industrial Products Design). The University has Erasmus agreements with Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Inholland and Rotterdam University. Its Mecidiyeköy Campus includes a Faculty of English Preparation.