The cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill for an alternative procedure that will allow private-school students to claim a place in state universities, Education Minister Costas Kadis.
The proposal was drawn up by the education ministry in cooperation with the University of Cyprus (UCy) and the University of Technology (TEPAK) to facilitate access for private school graduates, Kadis said, so as to address “reservations created in the past as regards access to public universities through international exams”.
Kadis was referring to the uproar created last September when UCy accepted five graduates from private schools. The university had accepted them following a decision that if a student from a private school was accepted by other universities based on their GCE and International Baccalaureate, qualifications they could be enrolled at UCy.
The university’s rector Constantinos Christophides came under fire from teachers and student unions, which called the move irregular, and urged Kadis to intervene as they said by law students should be accepted to UCy based solely on the Pancyprian entrance examinations.
Following a meeting between Kadis and Christophides, it was decided to recall the decision and allow the legal services to issue a ruling, which upheld the provisions of the law. As regards the five students already accepted, Christophides had said that the positions were theirs as long as they decided to enrol.
At the time, an alternative student admission procedure was under preparation. Kadis said that this procedure provides for exams organised by the two state universities, but which will be supervised by the ministry’s exams service, in parallel to the Pancyprian exams, for private school graduates.
State school graduates will too have the option to choose through which process they would prefer to use to gain entry in the two universities, Kadis said – the Pancyprian exams or the alternative exams.
Concerning the private school students’ level of Greek language knowledge, it will be tested through a Greek language exam, which all candidates will be asked to take, while the rest of exams can be taken in Greek or English, Kadis said.
“We hope that this proposal will be passed through parliament soon so that it can be implemented as of the next academic year,” he said.
Kadis added that candidates accepted through the alternative procedure would not deprive those who take the Pancyprian exams, as the alterative process is aimed at filling additional seats.
“Essentially, we are increasing the positions offered in the public universities of our country,” Kadis said.