By Poly Pantelides
The federation of parents of private school students yesterday called for parliament to force schools to drop their tuition fees by increasing the state’s say in how these schools are run.
The federation has written to the House education committee, asking them to push ahead with a bill pending from 2012 that amends the current laws to regulate private students’ admissions in local universities, especially the state-funded University of Cyprus, as well as to ensure grants and subsidies are extended to private school students as well.
The parents’ main gripe is tuition fees, which they feel should drop in response to the financial crisis and the difficulties that most parents are facing in paying the tuition fees. For example, they said, the annual tuition at the English School in Nicosia is €7,000 and despite complaints to the education ministry, the minister advised private schools to maintain fee hikes at 1.4 per cent for the current school year, instead of reducing the fees.
The head of the federation, Stella Kammitsi, said they needed guarantees that when their child is enrolled at a private school with a view to take exams in specific subjects, the school should not be able to change the courses that has often left many students and their parents hanging dry. English School parents were recently told, for example, that some students would not be taking the A-level examination most commonly asked for by UK universities for undergraduate admission. Instead, students would be looking to take the alternative International Advanced Level. Parents say the school should not be able to unilaterally take away the A-Level choice.
But even those considering sending their children to Cyprus universities, want stakeholders to agree on the form of entrance exam requirements.
The University of Cyprus recently suggested that in addition to the compulsory Greek language exam, students should also be able to choose whether to be examined on other subjects in Greek or in English. Since most private school instruction is in English, the move would be a major help to applicants.
The university also suggested setting aside 100 spots whose admission criteria would cater to private schools’ curricula. Conversation has stalled, and the parents’ federation wants the House education committee to bring stakeholders together to settle all issues.