Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Academic year begins with crises at north’s universities

feature tom2 unis in north the eastern mediterreanean university near famagusta
The Eastern Mediterreanean University

The north’s universities are facing crises ahead of the start of the new academic year in October, with financial and administrative issues plaguing its largest academic institutions.

The Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) in Famagusta, the north’s largest public university, has been facing a financial crisis throughout the summer, with its rector Aykut Hocanin resigning just minutes before a university administration meeting was due to take place on Friday.

University staff had been calling on Hocanin to resign after some claimed they had been paid less than the north’s minimum wage of 15,750TL (€544) due to cost-cutting measures while the university ran at a budget deficit of 410 million TL (€14.2 million). 

Earlier in the summer, the university’s employees’ trade union Dau-Sen even threatened to take the university to court over unpaid wages, while its leader Ercan Hoskara warned that if measures were not taken, the university “could go the same way as KTHY”, the north’s airline which went bust in 2010.

As the start of the academic year nears, ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel even convened a ‘cabinet’ meeting at the university, inviting both Hocanin and members of Dau-Sen to explain the university’s precarious financial situation.

Following the meeting, Ustel said “we have not given up on EMU, and we will do our best to improve the situation until the end.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Middle East Technical University (Metu)’s North Cyprus Campus (NCC), located in Kapouti, near Morphou, has been hit with mass resignations, with 70 of its staff leaving their posts since the start of the year.

A joint statement by the university’s remaining staff said there are “no teachers left in some departments”. 

They added that most of Metu NCC’s staff have received salaries even below Turkey’s minimum wage of 13,414TL (€464) and being paid as much as 15,000TL (€519) less per month than equivalent staff at the university’s campus in Istanbul, despite the north’s higher cost of living.

The university’s staff claimed that “board members gave themselves high pay rises” and the cost of student dormitories doubled, while the “quality of education decreased”.

Additionally, they said “with only days left before the start of the new academic year, students on campus will be greeted by empty offices, departments without teachers, and units which do not function”.

They claim that “the [campus] is being deliberately closed down”.

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