The House education committee was held under a tense atmosphere on Wednesday, after the auditor general accused the University of Cyprus of trying to mislead parliament over its budget.

This year’s UCy budget has increased by €40 million compared to the previous year, with auditor general Odysseas Michaelides suggesting the university had effectively tried to “blackmail” deputies before the elections, by suggesting contractors were demanding compensation for their projects.

Parliament was in recess until the end of the presidential elections and Michaelides suggested that citing demanding contractors was part of an effort to pressure MPs

to greenlight the budget without carrying out a proper debate.

The university’s deputy rector for international relations, finance and administration Ioannis Giapintzakis refuted the idea UCy masterminded the scheme as tempers flared.

Michaelides raised a number of questions over budgeted funds for a private healthcare scheme for teaching, research and special education staff, which amounts to a €1m budget The state would be required to contribute €170,000.

Michaelides’ recommendation is that this fund is scrapped, as the regulations entail an end of all healthcare schemes after Gesy’s introduction. The university’s position is that the scheme includes medication that is not available through Gesy.

Additionally, the auditor found “blatantly illegal” that UCy had submitted a budget higher than what cabinet had approved.

For instance, the budget specified €4.6m for the Apollon photovoltaic park for 2023, and a further €1m for 2024, and €1.5m for 2025. According to Michaelides, the university did not submit any project notes despite the fact that the law specifies any project worth more than €2m from any organisation that gets over 40 per cent of its funding from the government should include the details of the project.

A finance ministry representative specified the project was excluded from this provision as it was implemented in 2021 and the project dates back to 2020.