By Constantinos Psillides
FOLLOWING a public outcry, the University of Cyprus (UCY) yesterday denied that people with disabilities would be automatically excluded from admission to the medical school, adding that each case would be examined separately by a qualified medical board.
Admission criteria to the newly established medical school stipulated that people with severe disabilities could not apply for a place.
Under the heading “exclusion from the admissions process” UCY refers to candidates with a severe disability who could put a patient’s safety at risk during execution of the duties expected to be performed by a doctor.
Such disabilities were severe vision and hearing problems that would prevent the student from performing a clinical examination effectively, and basic procedures with safely.
Mobility problems – 60 to 70 per cent disability plus, which hamper a student’s autonomous locomotion – for example, quadriplegic and paraplegic individuals and people with muscular dystrophy.
It also lists serious psychological problems, which could endanger the safety of the student, their patients, and others.
However, in a written statement issued yesterday, UCY said excluding people with disabilities was never the case.
The school argued that the admission regulations had been misinterpreted, as it also stated that anyone who wished to appeal the university’s decision could freely do so.
Medical school dean Andreas Adam said: “Each case will be examined on an individual basis. If a candidate has a serious medical problem which could endanger a patient, his case will be referred to a medial board.”
The board will examine the case and decide whether a candidate is in a position to successfully complete their studies.
UCY said this was an international practice, employed by all well-respected educational institutions.
UCY extended an invitation to all organisations advocating the rights of people with disabilities, to meet and discuss their concerns on the subject.
“We are interested in hearing their views. We want to hear their concerns”, said the rector, Dr Constantinos Christofides.
Christofides stressed that UCY was always extremely sensitive of such cases and had always supported students with medical issues.
Regardless of the University’s stance, the paraplegics association doesn’t seem willing to let the matter go.
Demetris Lambrianides, head of the Cyprus Paraplegic Association called the university’s decision “a shameless disgrace.”
“We demand that the University apologises,” Lambrianides told the Cyprus Mail, adding that they can’t deprive disabled people of the chance to attend a school, even though they might not be planning to practice the profession.
“This is discrimination. The university should be ahead on matters like these. They should be leading the charge in changing the way the public views disabled people, not be prejudiced against them,” he said.