Cyprus Mail
FeaturedOpinionOur View

Our View: Private universities deserve credit for education sector, not the government

foundation stone, american university beirut, nikos christodoulides, anastasiades, paphos
President Nikos Christodoulides laid the foundation stone of AUB's Paphos campus

After laying the foundation stone for the campus of the American University of Beirut-Mediterraneo in Paphos, President Nikos Christodoulides said its establishment was “completely aligned with our policy to make Cyprus a regional and international educational, technological and research centre.”

He added that, within the framework of the implementation of his government’s programme, “we aim to promote Cyprus as an international, high level academic destination and at the same time are seeking the forging of intergovernmental agreements for mutual recognition of academic qualifications, with the objective of the internationalisation of our higher education.”

These are fine words from the president, and it is inevitable that the executive is now jumping on the higher education bandwagon, trying to take the credit for it. Yet the reality is that all the foundation work, risk-taking, innovative ideas, and promotion abroad required to establish a successful higher education sector, was done by the private universities.

And what they achieved was even more remarkable, considering the obstacles placed in their way by the state’s services over the years. In fact, their success was achieved despite the state services’ best efforts to make their growth as difficult as possible, on the pretext that they were maintaining high standards. Yet the reality is that the state often behaves as if the private sector is the enemy that is up to no good.

It was the University of Nicosia that set up the first medical school in Cyprus and the University of Cyprus followed suit many years later. It was the private universities that brought foreign students to Cyprus by offering most courses in the English language, while the state universities have only recently decided to offer some postgraduate courses in English, because there had been political objections.

That the state is now trying to take ownership of the higher education sector so that Cyprus, according to the president, will become “regional and international educational, technological and research centre,” should worry rather than reassure people. Governments have over the years tried to turn the island into regional centres of different types and have consistently failed.

Even higher education, despite its current success and significant contribution to GDP will require time before it finally establishes Cyprus as an educational centre. These things do not happen overnight, by government decree as the politicians would have us believe. On the contrary, years of hard work and unwavering commitment to raising standards is the only way for universities to build their reputation and standing.

The state’s responsibility is to facilitate this growth and development allowing the universities to have the initiative. Their success entitles them to call the shots.

Follow the Cyprus Mail on Google News

Related Posts

South African election: the fall of the ANC

Gwynne Dyer

As wealth inequality rises in Cyprus both people and democracy suffer

Les Manison

Clampdown on foreign property buyers in the north

Esra Aygin

Russian activities in Cyprus out of control

CM Reader's View

Our View: Anti-corruption office sinking into political infighting

CM: Our View

A new world order really is in the making

Alper Ali Riza