Cyprus Mail

Harmanci: Half of northern Nicosia’s population are university students

feature esra mehmet harmanci won almost 50 per cent of the votes in nicosia
Mehmet Harmanci

Half of the official population of northern Nicosia are university students, Turkish Cypriot Nicosia Mayor Mehmet Harmanci said on Tuesday.

Harmanci was speaking at the “100th Anniversary Ankara Urban Development Forum” in the Turkish capital, as a guest of the city’s Mayor Mansur Yavas.

“Within the borders of the Nicosia Turkish Municipality, there are 40,000 university students, which is half of the official population of our municipality and a third of our unofficial population,” he explained.

His words come as the north’s education sector burgeons, with over 20 universities currently open in the north.

Many have called the legitimacy of those universities into question, including former Turkish Cypriot Chief Negotiator for the Cyprus problem, Kudret Ozersay.

He said on Wednesday that “some organisations are operating under the name of a ‘university’ and illegally bringing people into the country,” adding, “steps should be taken to close these organisations.”

“It is also claimed that some people who come to the country under the guise of being students tried to enter the south illegally as a result of their universities not remaining in contact with their students,” he added.

He said, “radical measures should be taken immediately, including closing them down.”

“If this is not done, in four or five years, not such a long time away, we will have completely finished off the universities which do try to carry out higher education properly and with high quality as they should,” he added.

He referred to the issue of the City Island University in Famagusta, where the 38-year-old rector was reportedly recently arrested for having allegedly stolen nearly €20,000 from deposits made by students, alongside an employee.

Reports say the rector, who hails from Turkey, admitted to being guilty of the crime.

As the universities of questionable legitimacy continue to spring up across the north, those with more grounded standings find themselves in trouble.

The Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), the north’s largest public university, is currently in the depths of a financial crisis, having run at a budget deficit of 410 million TL (€13.7m) last academic year.

In addition, its rector Aykut Hocanin resigned just minutes before an emergency university administration meeting in September.

Elsewhere, Turkey’s Middle East Technical University (Metu)’s ‘North Cyprus’ Campus (NCC), located in Kapouti, near Morphou, has seen 70 members of its educational staff resign since the beginning of the year.

It is claimed there are “no teachers left in some departments”, while those remaining in post have reportedly in some cases been paid less than 13,414TL (€449) per month.

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