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Turkey quake strands some U.Va. students

Following the devastating Aug. 17 earthquake in Turkey that claimed over 13,000 lives and crippled the Turkish economy, University officials are making an effort to aide Turkish international students and ensure their safe return to Grounds.

Asst. Dean of Admissions P. Parke Muth, who has been in contact with some of the 11 incoming first-year students from Turkey, said one student has told him he will not be able to return to the University at all. A few other students told Muth that they will not be able to make it to Charlottesville by the beginning of the semester.

"One first year has requested to start in January," he said. "We normally don't have first-year students start in January because we don't have the orientation programs then. But, we will make a special effort for any of those students."

He emphasized that the Turkish students' admissions slots will be deferred.

"We're not giving up anyone's admission spot," he said.

Although it is difficult to estimate how many Turkish University students may not return on time this semester, Dean of Admissions John A. Blackburn said the situation is better than he initially expected.

"The picture seems to be better than we thought," Blackburn said. "We usually don't want to bring in new students in January, but [the earthquake] is a situation beyond their control."

Kazim Uzunoglu, a University alumni who graduated in 1992, said the Istanbul airport is fully functional and said he expects the Turkish students will be able to return this fall.

"Turkish students will most definitely be able to return to C'ville on time for registration and opening of school in fall," Uzunoglu said in a letter to The Cavalier Daily.

He said the Turkish government is helping its citizens.

"The federal government and lots of civil action organizations are taking lots of measures to help the victims in terms of food, shelter and medical treatment," he added. "We all took lots of lessons from this big one, I hope that we will be better prepared for the next one."

This year there are about 70 graduate and undergraduate University students from Turkey, which suffered over $20 billion in damages because of the earthquake, according to the The Washington Post.

But those students who need to delay their arrival at the University could run into problems with the Registrar and Bursar. Both offices subsequently are discussing the methods of making the transition for these students as easy as possible.

"We will work with students to assist them and help arrange their registration in this extenuating circumstance," University Registrar Ann Antrobus said.

The Registrar's Office will have more precise enrollment numbers once final registration is completed next Friday.

"We are watching the situation very closely," Antrobus said.

There is no need-based financial aid for international students, University Financial Aid Director Yvonne Hubbard said, but the financial aid office will assist Turkish students in locating student loans.

"All the administrative offices are making sure that we're prepared. We don't want them to be stuck in bureaucracy," Hubbard said. "Basically we are all trying to make sure they have the ability to come back to school and concentrate on their studies-they have been through enough problems."

She said the situation is somewhat similar to the financial difficulties some students faced during the Asian monetary crisis last fall.

"If some money is tied up and if there are problems getting access to finances, there are emergency funds that any student has access to," she added.

While the earthquake is now crippling Turkey, the catastrophe should not affect the number of future applications from the country, said Suzanne Louis, associate director for international studies.

"It is a devastating circumstance, but it's a natural event and the country will regroup from it," Louis said. "We need to be sensitive to each individual and each circumstance they are in."

As far as relief funds and attempts to help those in need in Turkey, Dean of Students Penny Rue said she has not heard of any such efforts.

"I assumed that we would see that movement once all the students return," Rue said.

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