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State universities’ acceptance of private school students appears legal says education minister

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris

The decision by two state universities to invite private school graduates to apply for any remaining vacant places using the results of their international exams appears to be perfectly legal, Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris said on Monday, but did not rule out revisiting the issue if necessary.

The decision by the University of Cyprus (UCy) and the University of Technology (Tepak) will apply to only a ‘handful’ of students who have taken GCE A levels or the International Baccalaureate because it comes so late in the application cycle.

State teachers’ unions, however, are up in arms over the decision.

They say it is illegal for students to get to study at UCy or Tepak without taking the Pancyprian exams, the state qualification sat by students in their final year of public school.

The results are used for admission to Greek universities or state universities in Cyprus.

Asked about the unions’ demand for the decision to be examined by the attorney-general, the education minister said it appeared to be legal.

“I will get back to you when I have studied the matter, but I have been briefed and have seen the regulations and it appears the procedures followed by Tepak and UCy are perfectly legal,” the minister said.

“But I am not the authority to judge and give a final opinion about the matter,” he added. “If we need to do anything else on the matter, we will do it.”

According to current regulations, decisions over vacant places at state universities after the final allocation of positions, lies solely in the hands of universities.

Those representing the interests of private school students – who make up 20 to 25 per cent of all secondary school students – say the unions’ objections have nothing to do with legalities.

“Stop looking for logic behind the unions’ announcements. You will only find their interests,” the emeritus leader of the association of parents of private school students Nicos Shialis has told the Sunday Mail.

“They prefer to lower the bar, so that students who may have barely passed, get a place in a state university but don’t want to give a chance to a private school graduate who may have even been accepted into London School of Economics!”

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