A former ‘education minister’ in the north signed off on the opening of 16 universities, opposition political party CTP ‘MP’ Sami Ozuslu said on Wednesday evening.

Speaking on television to Kanal Sim, Ozuslu declared the former ‘minister’ to have been Kemal Durust and confirmed that it was Durust who had been arrested in connection with financial irregularities at the Cyprus Health and Social Sciences University (KSTU) last month.

Ozuslu said he had requested information regarding the state of the north’s universities from the ‘education ministry’, and that the ‘ministry’ had said there are a total of 36 universities currently operating in the north.

He added that 28 of those universities have been opened since 2011, and that Kemal Durust signed off on the opening of 16 of them.

Durust served as the north’s ‘education minister’ on three occasions from 2009 to 2016.

Ozuslu explained that the first university opened in the north was the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta in 1979, followed by four others until 1997.

Those were the Girne American University in Kyrenia, the Near East University in northern Nicosia, the European University of Lefka, and the Cyprus International University in Mia Milia.

He said that there were five universities, and then in 2003 Turkey requested to open the Middle East Technical University campus, which brought the number to six.

He added, “no permissions were granted to open a new university until 2011, but then a real explosion happened.”

Of the 20 universities in the north signed off by people other than Durust, Ozuslu said seven were signed off by current ‘finance minister’ Ozdemir Berova when he was ‘education minister’ from 2016 to 2017.

Moving back to the matter of Kemal Durust, Ozsulu pointed out that it was Durust who signed off on the creation of the KSTU in 2016.

“The university which was opened with his permission later became his own office,” he added.

One of those 36 universities is the World Peace University in Nicosia, which, according to a document shared by former Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem Kudret Ozersay last month, is operating illegally.

He claimed the document was written by the north’s chief public prosecutor’s office in September.

However, the ‘government’ seems unperturbed by Ozersay’s claims, with the north’s ‘deputy prime ministry’ on Wednesday announcing that the university’s vice rector Behiye Cavusoglu had met with ‘deputy prime minister’ Fikri Ataoglu the previous week.