THE University of Cyprus is an autonomous institution and makes its own decisions on academic affairs, rector Constantinos Christophides was quoted as saying on Friday in response to criticism by main opposition party Akel over the university’s new policy of inviting enrolment applications from undergraduates accepted in other universities.
On August 1, the UCy formally announced it was accepting transfer applications from undergraduate-level candidates who had succeeded in international examinations, such as International Baccalaureate and GCEs, and have been accepted in a university abroad for the 2017-18 academic year.
Eligibility criteria include a high school-leaving certificate, an acceptance letter from an overseas university, examination certificates, and an IGSE/GCE certificate, or equivalent, in Modern Greek.
A three-member ‘transfer committee’ will evaluate applications and recommend transfers.
The UCy has been accepting transfer applications since last Monday and will continue to do so until August 25, with applicants informed of decisions by September 11.
Under the current regime, the only path to get into the UCy available to Cypriot school-leavers were the Pancyprian exams, which are based on the curriculum taught at public schools.
Although private-school pupils have the option of sitting the Pancyprians, they are taught a different syllabus and require after-school lessons to prepare for them.
Earlier efforts by Christophides to offer private-school leavers access to studies at the UCy were met with strong political opposition.
The new policy prompted a reaction by Akel, which on Thursday accused Christophides of “acting arbitrarily”.
“Following his failed attempt to introduce transfers of private-school leavers through the back door, which was deemed illegal by the Attorney General, he is now at it again,” MP Yiorgos Georgiou said.
“His concern is not for all children at private schools. He is addressing the invitation to a few, with suspicious and non-objective procedures, to strengthen the myth of excellence. The great majority of these children will pay dearly to study abroad.”
Christophides has even drawn the university’s senate into his “illegal actions”, Georgiou said.
“As Akel, we repeat: all our children have the right to education,” he said.
“We fully support an alternative path to public university studies, which will be governed by the principle of equality and the equal treatment of all candidates, whether from public or private schools. But this requires transparent and legal procedures.”
Responding to Georgiou’s criticism, Christophides told local daily Alithia that the policy was approved unanimously by the senate, a 36-member body, and the university’s 16-member board, with one abstention.
He added that the education ministry was notified of the policy before it was announced.
“The University of Cyprus believes that all of Cyprus’ children should have the opportunity to study at their country’s public universities,” he said.
“I’m sure that even Mr Georgiou will realise this, some day. It might take him a few more years, but he will eventually.”
On the allegations of illegality, the rector argued that the UCy does not require legislation to make transfer-policy decisions.
“Some need to realise that the university regulates its own academic affairs autonomously,” he said.