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MPs lay into UCy over private student places

The University of Cyprus campus

By Andria Kades

The University of Cyprus (UCy) decision to admit five students based on international exam standards and after they had been accepted by foreign universities was illegal, the House education committee heard on Tuesday.

Present at the session was UCy rector Constantinos Christofides and teacher’s union OELMEK representatives.  Christofides last week requested unions did not attend.

The focus of Tuesday’s committee was the decision UCy took in August to transfer private-school students who were accepted into foreign universities based on their GCE and International Baccalaureate results but not having done the Pancyprian entry exam, which angered OELMEK and some MPs.

Acting chairman of the education committee, DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous said: “The words that describe the decision of the rector are the following; arrogance, arbitrariness, lawlessness, illegality and having things done this way.”

This was because in order to transfer a student, their records from the foreign university they are attending – and want to leave – should be evaluated, he said.

“The particular students who enrolled at the University of Cyprus based on what results, what performance what university since they never went there?” Themistocleous added.

Furthermore, the decision violated the law on Pancyprian examinations – a requirement to enter the university – the law on universities and two regulations, he added.

Any changes the UCy wished to implement should have been legalised through parliament but the university opted to avoid it, he said.

“Every change, provided for in the law should be made at least three years before it is implemented for one simple reason – so parents and teachers can know beforehand what will be implemented in the future and make their own decision.”

This was the first time, Themistocleous said, that a university accepted students without prior proof they had excellent knowledge of the institution’s teaching language. In August, UCy said Greek language proficiency was a requirement.

AKEL MP Andros Kafkalias found the decision “wrong and unfair and had essentially privileged a group of graduates over all other candidates who had done the Pancyprian exams.”

Although AKEL supports the autonomy of state universities, he said, the admission process could not be out of the control of the education ministry.

OELMEK secretary Demetris Taliadoros said the decision was not made through a regular session of the university senate but rather via email.

“There is an email to senate members dated August 18 to answer by August 21, and on August 24 they announced these places.”

They were only approved on September 7 however making it “obvious that the university announces places based on regulations that are approved on a later date by the University council. It is a very clear violation of the law.”

UCy made it clear in August that no state school students would lose a place, and Christofides has said that some 324 places remain empty.

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