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Auditor-general has ‘reservations’ over state university budgets

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides expressed his “objections and reservations” regarding supplementary budgets for Cyprus’s two state universities, the University of Cyprus, and the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) on Friday.

Michaelidies made the statement to the Parliamentary education and cultural committee, which was also attended by officials from both universities. According to the bills currently before parliament, the University of Cyprus’s supplementary budget for the next academic year could stretch to over €19 million, while Tepak’s is set to fall just shy of €14 million.

Michaelides said the Audit service’s position is that there is no need for a supplementary budget to be approved and said that this is the second time that the University of Cyprus has come before the committee and “insisted prematurely that things be approved”.

Professor Ioannis Giapintzakis, representing the University of Cyprus at the meeting, said that it was imperative to pass the supplementary budget and that “we need the supplementary budget in order to be able to operate as normal”.

Committee chairman and Diko MP Pavlos Mylonas said that he is awaiting the Auditor-general’s report into the University of Cyprus, which is due in October, adding “I hope it does not disprove the assertions of those who support the university’s budget”.

He was also keen to point out that costs should be limited where possible, saying that vulnerable social groups which require special education also require access to funds.

Regarding Tepak, Mylonas said that about 90 per cent of the university’s supplementary budget concerns the construction of student halls of residence, nothing that many students at Tepak “find it unimaginably difficult” to cover their rents.

This position was supported by Akel MP Christos Christofides, who said the monthly rent price in Limassol, where Tepak is based, can exceed €1000, and that many students struggle to be able to find a place at any price.

Christofides also claimed that Tepak is considering asking staff members to take students on as lodgers in the next academic year and called student accommodations in Limassol a “huge issue”. He also criticised what he called a lack of central planning on the issue by the government.

Michaelides asked that a project development memorandum concerning the proposed construction of new student halls be sent to the Audit Service.

The budgets of both universities will be brought before the House of Representatives next Thursday.

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