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Our View: Unions trying to stifle university, yet again

University of Cyprus students

THE UNIVERSITY of Cyprus (UCy) is once again the target of the forces of reaction – the unions and Akel – because it has dared to allow male students from private schools to attend courses for the spring semester without registering them. The critics claim, misleadingly, that the university was trying to allow private school students in “through the window” in violation of the existing laws and the opinion of the attorney-general.

This is not the case. UCy had decided to register male students in January for the spring semester after the government had decided to shorten the length of military service in order to help those who completed their service. The released guardsmen, who had been successful in the national entry exams for public school students, would follow units in the spring semester and in summer so that in September they could go into the second year of their course. They would still have to take extra units to complete the course but they would thus not miss a whole year.

As there were still empty places for the January intake (204 were registered) UCy decided to allow male, private school students to follow these courses without registering them. If the necessary regulations allowing them to register were subsequently approved by the legislature, they would also join the second year of the course. If the regulations were not approved the students could use the credits they had earned at UCy at whatever college they attended abroad. It was a perfectly reasonable decision approved unanimously by the university’s council and senate. Seven students from private school were accepted.

From the day it was announced the teaching unions have been protesting and attacking UCy for “provocatively breaking the law” and other such nonsense. The union bosses were at Wednesday’s House education committee, which met to discuss the matter. The education minister was also there.

What we would like to know is why the secondary school teachers union Oelmek was invited to the meeting and asked to give its view on an issue it has no moral or legal authority to speak on. On what grounds are people whose only concern is for teachers to earn maximum pay for minimum work eligible to have a say on how UCy conducts it affairs? The small shops association Povek may as well have been asked for its views as well.

It is astonishing that Oelmek, the antiquated practices of which are chiefly responsible for the low standards of public schools, are being given a say in the university’s entrance policy. These are unions that worship mediocrity, fight competition and consider the rewarding of excellence anathema. They want to impose these values on the UCy by preventing access to students from private schools so the places for the mediocre students of public schools will not be reduced.

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