30 April, 2020
Education in Cyprus
For decades, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been attracting a steady flow of holidaymakers who come to enjoy the island’s natural and cultural diversity, its sunny beaches, luxurious hotels and famous hospitality. What is not as widely known is that Cyprus has invested approximately 7% of its GDP in education, aiming to offer residents and foreign students high-standard European-style tertiary education, with affordable tuition fees, impressive facilities and several other enjoyable benefits.
A breakdown of the higher education sector in Cyprus reveals a balance of public and private institutions, as well as a choice of private tertiary-level colleges. Accredited universities offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that proudly match the standards of international universities around the world.
The University of Cyprus, the first public university in Cyprus, was established in 1989 and enrolled its first undergraduate and postgraduate students in 1992 and 1997 respectively. Today, a few decades later, its graduates are keenly recruited in Cyprus and abroad, proving through their performance and achievements that the university is successfully pursuing its mission: to provide high standard education and research opportunities, which in turn will help the island’s abundant human talent develop to its full potential, and ultimately drive cultural, social and economic progress in Cyprus.
The second public institution of higher education, the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), was established in 2002. To date, it is the only public institution in Cyprus, which is dedicated to lifelong learning and distance education. Open to everyone, and offering a variety of courses at different levels – undergraduate, postgraduate, vocational programmes and training – the OUC will satisfy the thirst for knowledge among the public at large. What is important to note is that graduates of the OUC hold recognized degrees that match those of any other accredited university. As OUC courses are based on the European Credit Transfer System, students will face no obstacles, should they decide to transfer to or from any other university.
The Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), a third public university, accepted its first students in 2007. The purpose of the CUT was to complement the other public universities by offering both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in disciplines or sub-disciplines that were not covered by the other public universities.
Looking at private universities in Cyprus, which were first licensed to operate in 2005 and are now attracting a balance of Cypriot and foreign students, there are currently five private universities on the island. Year after year they are expanding their programmes to give prospective students a greater choice of subjects to study, while keeping an eye on industry demands, to prepare their graduates for the jobs of the future.
Core departments are still humanities, science, engineering and technology, business, mathematics, medicine, law and social sciences. Given that the hospitality industry is the backbone of the Cyprus economy, programmes associated with hotel management and tourism in general are regarded as a valuable ticket to immediate employment.
Students applying for undergraduate programmes are required to submit a school leaving certificate and achieve a passing grade in the admission exam. For degree programmes with English language instruction, a certificate proving English language proficiency will have to be submitted, unless the candidate’s native language is English.
Students interested in postgraduate programmes must already hold a Bachelor’s degree. In many cases, a personal interview may also be required. In terms of duration, they can expect a Master’s degree programme to cover one or two years on a full-time basis, depending on the subject. In most cases they will have a choice to enrol for either full-time of part-time study.
Although Cyprus is a member of the EU and the Bologna system, most universities follow the American credits system, rather than having a set curriculum for each programme. This is often a crucial advantage that offers students greater flexibility, both in terms of the intensity and the annual cost of studying. By choosing fewer subjects every term, they can reduce the pressures of studying on the one hand, and the tuition per term on the other hand – though it will take longer to obtain a degree. Non-Cypriot and non-EU citizens must therefore bear in mind that stretching the duration of study will ultimately be more costly (as they are paying for accommodation away from home), as the hours they are allowed to work is limited by law.
By contrast, universities that follow the European system do not offer the flexibility of the credits system. The curriculum – and therefore tuition – is largely fixed, with only a few electives. High-performing students may apply for merit-based partial or full scholarships.
The language of instruction often determines whether a student will apply to a public of private university. While English is the language of instruction in all private universities as a rule, the public universities offer some – but not all – programmes in English. In both cases, a certificate of English language proficiency is required. Here it is also worth noting Cyprus and EU citizens pay reduced tuition fees, compared with international student fees.
All things considered, studying in Cyprus allows you to pursue an internationally recognized degree in the subject of your choice, combined with the quality of life and safe environment that the island is known to offer – with the added bonus of reduced tuition for Cyprus citizens.