The academic staff and student unions of the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) were set to strike on Friday, mainly over budget concerns.

The strike will begin at 1.30pm in the forecourt of the university rector’s building.

According to a related announcement, the goal of the event is to send the message in all directions, that the unions are “determined to defend higher education”.

The unions stressed that they stand by the rector and demonstrate their readiness for collective action.

They also argued that budget cuts for public universities are intended to shrink them.

In response to the announcement, the education ministry sought to assure the academic community and the public that the ministry and the state “provide tangible support to the public universities of Cyprus, aiming at the continuous development and modernisation of higher education over time”.

The ministry also refuted claims of budget cuts, saying they are “far from reality” as all three public university budgets approved by the cabinet for 2024 are significantly higher than 2023 budgets.

Specifically, as regards Tepak, the total state grant in the 2023 budget amounted to €67.2 million, while for 2024 the corresponding amount, submitted by the university and approved by the Council of Ministers, amounts to €75.7 million, marking a very significant increase of €8.5 million.

It was also stressed that the state has in the past approved supplementary budgets for Tepak whenever the need arose and the state’s budgetary capabilities allowed it.

“The constant position of the ministry of education is that the solution to any problems is not strike measures, but finding a way out through submitting reasoned and documented requests and conducting a fruitful and constructive dialogue, always within the framework of legitimacy and the state’s financial capabilities,” the ministry concluded.