The American University of Beirut’s Mediterranean campus (AUB Mediterraneo) was officially inaugurated at the Paphos Innovation Centre on Wednesday.

The event was attended by the ministers of education of Cyprus and Lebanon, the US ambassador to Cyprus, trustees of AUB Lebanon, the mayor of Paphos, academics and faculty.

The AUB – Mediterraneo, which is the first satellite campus of the university located outside of Lebanon, welcomed its first cohort of 45 undergraduate and 8 graduate students.

Higher education in Cyprus has made tremendous progress over the recent years the Minister of Education Athena Michaelidou said.

“Our commitment to academic excellence and the provision of high-quality higher education [is] establishing Cyprus as a regional [and] international educational, technological and research centre,” the minister noted.

She added that universities contribute to financial development of the country and that AUB’s global status rested on a 157-year-old legacy.

US Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher, said the bilateral relationship between the US and Cyprus was a “cornerstone for stability, prosperity, and democracy” in the Eastern Mediterranean and globally.

The ambassador underscored the importance of people-to-people connections and the promotion of common values.

She said the US is committed to international education and supports Cyprus’ aspirations to become a European educational hub.

President of AUB Fadlo Khuri, for his part, underscored that excellence, driven by a commitment to the greater good, is deeply rooted in AUB’s history and culture noting the “heroic performance” of its medical centre staff during crises.

Khuri cited research indicating that a strong university presence is associated with pro-democratic attitudes and diversification of economies.

He also referred to challenges, such as ‘brain drain’ facing Lebanon, Cyprus, and neighbouring nations and the social strife that endangers the stability of the region.

Mayor Phedonas Phedonos in his comments said AUB Mediterraneo was “vital to progress and even our existence” in this “troubled region” where large numbers of people have been forced to migrate over the past century.

“The lesson of this timeless reality is that we must invest much more in education and training,” Phedonos said.

The Paphos mayor noted that in line with the goal of turning the city into an regional hub of education, technology, and innovation, four major tech companies moved their operations to the city in 2023, and recalled that the hospitality school of the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) is also set to open there in 2025.