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Our View: Do school teachers really expect to dictate how universities are run?

The university of Cyprus

The arrogance of the teaching unions knows no bounds. On Monday the leaders of all the teaching unions, including that of primary school teachers, sat themselves on a podium and invited the media to censure the decision of the two public universities to invite applications for vacant places from private school students who had not sat the Pancyprian exams.

Like a panel of court judges, they unanimously ruled that this decision was “arbitrary and illegal” as it contravened the Law on Pancyprian Examinations. The head of Oelmek also ruled that the decision violated the principle of equality before the law, but primarily “provoked the feelings of the thousands of public school graduates that sat the Pancyprian exams.”

Was this a rational argument that a teacher should use? Had the head of Oelmek carried out a survey of the thousands of public school graduates, on whose behalf he was speaking, to know that their feelings had been provoked by the decision of Tepak and the University of Cyprus? Apart from issuing a ruling the union bosses also demanded full transparency and the publication of all the vacant places by department!

Who do these people think they are? Do they have any legal authority to issue orders to public universities, which are autonomous and independent institutions? Have teaching union bosses that have been running primary and secondary schools for the benefit of their members rather than the students, with disastrous consequences for public education, decided they will also run the universities?

Their behaviour is beyond belief but they will carry on thinking that they are in charge of public education as long as nobody stands up to them. On Wednesday, when this matter will be discussed at the House, at the demand of the unions, not a single deputy will dare stand up to them. The irony is that all this fuss, according to the rector of the University of Cyprus, was pointless as places would be offered to just four or five students.

Rationality holds no sway for union bosses that are accustomed to dogmatically imposing their wishes citing vacuous arguments. They claimed the decision of the universities would “undermine public schools.” We thought it was constantly falling standards, for which teachers have a big share of the responsibility, that undermine public schools. As for the principle of equality, they should tell us how it is served by excluding all children that have sat international exams and making public universities the exclusivity of public school children.

A university should be open to anyone with good academic qualifications, not be the closed shop that the unionised champions of mediocrity demand.


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