Cyprus Mail

Calls for probe into bribery claims at UCy

UCY Leventis Library

A member of the House education committee urged the auditor-general on Friday to investigate bribery allegations against the University of Cyprus (UCy), suggesting that developers bribed the institution to delay student housing projects, benefiting private apartment owners.

Responding to the accusations, UCy’s rector, Tasos Christofides, dismissed the claims as hearsay and provided an explanation for the university’s delay in building student housing for almost 20 years.

However, Dipa MP Alekos Tryfonides was not satisfied with the explanation and announced during an interview on Radio Trito that he would send a letter to the auditor-general.

He cited complaints received from citizens during last year’s university budget discussion, alleging that specific individuals within the university received bribes to halt the construction of more student housing, thus forcing students to rent privately and benefitting developers.

Tryfonides urged anyone with proof of the matter to submit it to the police and called for an investigation by the audit office to verify the allegations. He emphasised that even without proven bribery, potential negligence by the university in not constructing additional student housing should be examined.

In response, UCY’s rector said that people’s reputations should not be tainted with “rumours heard in coffee shops”. He stressed that unsubstantiated claims should not be reported publicly noting that the university’s administration welcomes an investigation into this alleged scam.

His statements echoed’ the tertiary institution’s announcement issued on Thursday over the issue, which urged anyone with evidence of bribery allegations to submit it to the police.

The first phase of the Nicosia-based university’s student housing development was completed in 2001, while the bidding process for the second phase in 2019.

Christofides said that during the 18-year gap, the university had to prioritise building facilities for certain departments that lacked space on the campus, such as the medical school and polytechnic school.

“The University of Cyprus has placed utmost importance on providing accommodation for its students,” the rector said, noting that renting in Cyprus has become very expensive.

He then blamed bureaucratic hurdles for the delays in the procedures for the construction of student accommodation initiated in 2019.

According to the rector, the first viability study for the project was rejected, and the proposal chosen following the bidding process was later found not to meet the requirements. As a result, the university had to cancel the process and refer the bid to court, awaiting the end of the court proceedings before being allowed to launch another bidding process.

“Now we can launch a new public bidding process,” the rector said without providing further details.

MPs have previously heard that high rental prices in the capital force some students to seek more affordable accommodation in the north or decline their university admissions.

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