THE MEDICAL School of the University of Cyprus (UCy) has not enjoyed the best of starts, with several important aspects of its operation still not sorted. Use of the state hospital by students for clinical training is still on hold because of the objections of government doctors, while the evaluation of its degrees by the country’s accreditation agency is still pending.
In theory and in keeping with rational practice, the medical school should never have opened without settling these issues first. In practice though, the state bureaucracy, unions and political parties are more adept at either preventing the university from operating properly or delaying them for years, than facilitating them. This problem is endemic and also affects businesses.
The authorities of the UCy went ahead with the opening of the medical school in order to put pressure on the authorities to take the necessary decisions. If the university did not take the initiative, “we would have waited for many years before we would be able to open the medical school,” a member of the UCy’s senate said. He had a point considering the snail’s pace at which everything moves.
As this paper reported at the weekend, the Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education has not yet formulated the procedures and criteria for the evaluation of medical institutions and programmes. According to the law, the evaluation of medical schools must start in June 2019, which is two years away. One private medical school, which received accreditation from an international agency, has been accepting students for much longer than UCy, while a second was established in the meantime.
On the issue of clinical training the university had made an agreement with the health ministry, but this was blocked by the union of government doctors, who threatened strike action. A bill that would put the co-operation between the medical school and state hospitals within a legal framework now awaits the government’s approval before it is sent to the legislature, where it could take months of discussions to be finalised and voted through.
Under the circumstances, it was a bit rich of certain deputies to criticise the medical school, when approving the UCy budget last Friday.
One deputy claimed he had received a host of complaints, expressed disbelief at what was going on and demanded measures were taken to put things right. Another deputy, had the nerve to say that the co-operation memorandum between the medical school and Makarios hospital was drafted without consulting the unions!
Unions have as little expertise as deputies on how a university hospital should operate but, it seems, both must have a say on an issue they know nothing about. If UCy did not push things and engaged in discussions with unions and political parties before taking decisions, it would still be waiting to open the medical school in 2020.