EU entry could aid title bid

October 18, 2002

The Cypriot government is to reconsider a decision to prevent private colleges from becoming universities due to the expected impact that joining the European Union will have on student numbers.

Cyprus is expected to be among the first wave of nations to be admitted to the EU as part of the enlargement process.

This would result in the removal of overseas fees, enabling more students to be able to afford to study in the UK.

This, in turn, would affect the island's tertiary colleges - a traditional choice, alongside a Greek university, for those students who do not study in the UK or the US, or who fail to gain access to the heavily oversubscribed University of Cyprus.

Some of these institutions, which were set up to meet national demand before the university was established in 1992, can award graduate and postgraduate degrees, but the government has consistently refused to allow them to assume the title of university.

If reduced fees as a result of EU membership erode the price differential between study at a private college on the island and enrolment at a UK university, some parents and students will opt for the wider cultural experience and perceived prestige of study abroad.

The private colleges have welcomed a government decision to reconsider a ruling that their profit-making nature ruled them out as universities. The attorney general's office has decreed that the fact that colleges are private is no longer regarded as an impediment.

The remaining obstacle is that, until now, there were no criteria defining the characteristics of a university. These have been drawn up and will be put before the house of representatives this month.

Further legislation could help private institutions by lifting the regulations that prohibit foreign universities from establishing branches in Cyprus, allowing for a wide range of collaboration.

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