The American University of Cyprus (AUCY) will open its doors in Larnaca in September 2021, and its second campus, in Ayia Napa, still under construction will begin welcoming students in the near future.
The new university, offering undergraduate and graduate courses largely in business, science and technology, will be the only university in Cyprus to follow the American model. It is intended to fill a gap in the Larnaca and Famagusta regions.
Like American universities, AUCY will offer a robust campus life as well as classes.
“AUCY will have university spirit and campus life: AUCY will be a second home, where students will feel fully integrated, and by ‘integration,’ I mean excited to come to the university. To study, learn, have fun and even party. We aim for belongingness and an active campus life, and a positive, healthy learning/living environment,” AUCY founder Dr. Marc-Antoine Zabbal told the Cyprus Mail in an interview.
Zabbal is a Lebanese investor who has lived in Cyprus for seven years. He has brought together a group of likeminded Cypriot investors.
“Cyprus is now my home, just as Lebanon, and our friends and associates in this project are Cypriots, who shared my vision: The geographical location of the island is the ideal location; it is a European nation facing the Middle East and that has excellent ties with the region, and which has a ready infrastructure to support new businesses.”
Job creation for Cypriots; boost for the local economies; business incubators
AUCY will bring jobs to the region, but also investment as students graduate and start their own businesses, Zabbal says.
“Aside from forming a new generation of Cypriots and international thinkers, and thus benefiting the economy, AUCY, like any new promising project would offer great benefits: New jobs, but what is more exciting is that our students, coming from all over the world, will be using all infrastructure and facilities (hotels, premises, taxi….) meaning the whole package. This will impact Larnaca, for sure… but imagine having students all year around in Ayia Napa, this could be a game changer for locals in Famagusta…”
Another point I would like to make is the importance of “business incubators.” AUCY will be joining forces with international incubators and encourage our students to write proposals and start their own SME’s. That will be something extremely important for the Cypriot economy.”
AUCY will comprise several undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, as well as a Division of Continuing Education and a high-end Training Center.
The new university will offer degrees that are fully accredited and duly approved by the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and particularly the CYQAA (Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education), Zabbal points out. There will also be a full-scale academic exchange program with a reputable, regionally, and internationally accredited US university. Additionally, AUCY is in the process of affiliating with several universities in other regions, based on their expertise in the desired programs.
An international academic standard
Zabbal has great ambitions for the new university. “What will set AUCY apart is our open-door policy, our classroom policy, and choosing a faculty at the highest international level.
All our students shall have direct access to all administration personnel, starting from the rector to all professors and staff. Classic administrations create layers for students, making them sometimes unheard or unseen. At AUCY, and as part of the American system, everyone is well heard, anyone who needs help will be assisted. Bottom line: We need our students to feel at home and empowered, because after all its their university.
Classroom policy: The learning process has evolved and changed, students are not ONLY recipients, but we can also learn from them, so they will be taking part in the education process inside classrooms. Interaction is the key word; therefore, all our professors are instructed to adopt the ‘interaction method’ and let go of the classic method of teaching.”
We intend to choose the best local and international professors with a focus on classroom interaction and on research projects. Along with our international partners, we will make sure to keep a high academic international standard.”
It is worth noting that Zabbal, along with the group of investors he has brought together, have an entirely philanthropic purpose in starting AUCY.
“I cannot use the term ‘investment’ when referring to the American University of Cyprus. I do not consider AUCY an investment in the strict financial sense; for me AUCY is a mission and a lifetime project. All members of our team either on the Cypriot side, consisting of Nicolas Karoulas, Christos Karas and Dr. George Phylactou or the Lebanese side consisting of myself, Dr. Tarek Sadek, Farid Haikal and Joe Ibrahim are not participating in this project driven from financial motives. All of our members are well established and successful in their respective fields. We are participating in this university project because we believe there is a need for the only Cypriot/European university in Cyprus and the eastern European area that follows the spirit and model of American education.”