Education System in Cyprus Accommodates Expatriates’ Needs
Walk around any of the main towns in Cyprus and you will soon recognize one of the island’s main features: a cosmopolitan air that is a by-product of the high proportion of resident expatriates from different parts of the world. So where do expatriate families send their children to school? And what kind of education can they expect?
Education: a priority for everyone
It may come as a surprise to many, but Cypriots today consider their children’s education a top priority. From as early as pre-school and all the way to graduate school, parents will do whatever they can to secure the best possible education for their children, firm in their belief that this will pave the way for a better future. In fact, Cyprus surpassed the objectives of “Europe 2020”, the EU’s ten-year jobs and growth strategy. One of that programme’s main targets was that at least 40% of 30 to 34-year olds in the EU should have completed tertiary education by the year 2020. In Cyprus, 58,2% of that age bracket have achieved that goal, putting the island’s population at the top of the list of EU countries with the highest number of tertiary level graduates per capita, whether they have concluded their studies in Cyprus or overseas.
From primary to tertiary
Starting with elementary school, which covers six years, followed by another six years at secondary level, schools in Cyprus are divided into free public state schools and paid private schools. Both are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Culture, with a budget (for state schools) that amounts to 7% of annual GDP, putting it alongside Denmark and Sweden.
The language of instruction at the state schools is Greek. Most private schools teach in English and Greek, although Russian, French and Italian schools have also opened to accommodate these communities. Tuition fees vary, according to the school and the grade, starting from annual fees of €3.000, up to €15.000. In terms of their curriculum, most follow the UK system, preparing students for GCSE and A Level examinations, though some follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
For families interested in boarding facilities, the International School of Paphos offers boarding housing for students, offering 5-day, 7-day, or on-request options. Cypriot students are also eligible to apply for various scholarships for higher education both in Cyprus universities and abroad. The most well-known merit scholarship programs are the Fulbright Scholar Program for studies in the US, and the A.G. Leventis Foundation’s scholarships.
On a tertiary level, you will also find both public and private colleges and universities. A high school diploma is the general requirement, and depending on the institution, entrance exams may be required, and there may be additional requirements for certain subjects. The private universities will also expect evidence of English language proficiency. In addition to the universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degree courses, a number of public institutions offer specific education and training in technical-professional fields and disciplines to meet the demand in the local job market. Depending on the course of study, yearly tuition fees range from €6,000 to €26.000.
Like the elementary and secondary schools, tertiary education – universities and/or colleges – can be found in all the major towns, with a concentration in the capital, Nicosia. However, this is a field that is developing slowly but surely, with new educational establishments in the pipeline.
Here it is worth noting that Cyprus university degrees are recognized around the world, as they rank among the top 600 universities globally. Some universities have achieved much higher rankings for specific courses. This means that students are able to transfer from a university in Cyprus to other universities outside Cyprus for further advancement, whether by choice or if their circumstances change.