Cyprus Mail

Ministry seeks better fee deal for soldiers planning to study in UK in 2021

As part of efforts to get a better deal after the UK announced significant hikes in university tuition fees from 2021, the education ministry on Wednesday asked men who are joining the army this summer to inform it whether they have secured places in universities so as to help its representations.

In a written statement, the ministry said it was trying to tackle the issue with the fee increases at UK universities and in cooperation with the defence ministry, they have texted conscripts asking them to let them know by Sunday if they have secured or were in the process of securing university places for 2021.

As part of its Brexit strategy, the British government announced last week that from September 2021 all EU students will lose their ‘home’ fee status of paying 9,250 pounds a year, regardless of the course they study.

The fee hike will be enormous. The international fees Cypriots will have to pay mean that a maths degree at a decent UK university will cost around 18,000 pounds a year. At the other end of the spectrum, a medical degree at Cambridge university is 58,000 pounds a year.

British government-backed loans from Student Finance England will also no longer be available.

This year’s female graduates will be starting their first year at university this autumn when the existing fee structure will still apply. This is unfair on their male counterparts who must spend a year in the army and cannot take their places at university until 2021.

It is this group the education ministry is trying to help by arranging a special deal with the UK.

After Greece and Cyprus, the UK is the most popular place for Cypriots to study, and Cyprus’ historical links to Britain had led to hints from the Cyprus government that it might be able to reach a special deal based on its Commonwealth status or negotiate a bilateral agreement.

Knowledgeable sources in the UK and Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail last week this will not happen, but that a one-off goodwill gesture over this year’s national guard intake was possible.

For more information, interested parties can call the ministry at 22800616 and 22800617.

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