Government efforts to make the country a regional education hub have proved successful as the number of foreign students has almost tripled within three years, Education Minister Costas Kadis said on Wednesday.
Kadis told the members of the House education committee that during the 2012-2013 academic year, more than 8,300 foreign students were registered in tertiary education institutions, while last year the number topped 17,600, according to the statistical services.
He added that according to his ministry’s own data, there were more than 21,000 foreign students last year.
“We almost tripled the number since 2012-2013,” Kadis said.
As part of the goal to increase numbers, the government has supported the expansion of state and private universities so that they can offer “more attractive study programmes”.
Establishing the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education, Kadis said, was another measure taken to boost tertiary education. The agency, established in 2015, is responsible for ensuring the quality of higher education in Cyprus and for overseeing improvements to higher education institutions and their programmes of study.
The minister also said that agreements signed with other countries on cooperation in the field of higher education and on the mutual recognition of qualifications has also helped in increasing the numbers of foreign students. He said that huge prospects had been opened up with such agreements signed with Russia and China.
Kadis said that he recently discussed with the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency the interest of foreign universities in setting up operations in Cyprus, which would lead to even more students from abroad.
Kadis also dismissed recent data that showing a decrease in the numbers of Cypriots receiving tertiary education.
He said that in 2010, 45 per cent of Cypriot youth had been in tertiary education, while in 2015 the percentage rose to 55 per cent, which is higher than the EU average.
“The EU’s goal is that by 2020 all member states reach 40 per cent, and we are already at 55 per cent,” Kadis said. “What should trouble us, is ways to keep these scientists in Cyprus”.