EDUCATION: Cyprus universities offering places to private school students causes row

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Cyprus state universities deciding to offer vacant places to private school students with international grades like GCE A Levels is opposed by teacher and student unions.

The traditional route to state-funded universities is via the Pancyprian exam system but Cyprus University and the Cyprus University of Technology want to widen the entry field, especially as the places on offer have not been filled.

Elementary teachers’ union POED and tertiary teachers’ unions OELMEK, OLTEK along with high school and university student unions PSEM and POFEN want the “arbitrary and illegal decision” rescinded.

Unions argue the decision discriminates against state school students.

“The decision violates the principle of equality and provokes the sentiments of thousands of state-school graduates who have taken the nationwide exams,” said OELMEK’s head Costas Hadjisavvas.

Education Minister Kostas Champiaouris met the university rectors to discuss the legal framework regarding their decision.

After the meeting with the rectors, Champiaouris said that the matter has been referred to the Attorney General as a matter of urgency.

He did say, that it appeared the universities are acting within the laws and regulations of those institutions.

The Minister said that he found it unfair for places to be lost, and students to be “punished due to procedures”.

University of Cyprus Rector Tasos Christofides said "the fuss over the allocation of places at the University of Cyprus and the Cyprus Institute of Technology is unnecessary as the places will go to children who have passed international exams”.

He added that these are places left vacant following the end of the allocation process made on the basis of the Pancyprian Examinations results, noting that his year, due to the small number of applicants, just 4 or 5 of these places will be allocated to students who have successfully passed international exams such as the GCE A Levels.

Christofides stressed that the university regulations allow them to allocate vacant places as they deem necessary.

TEPAK rector Andreas Anayiotos, confirmed that only a small number of students will actually benefit from the decision, added that these students who have succeeded in international exams will certainly be an asset to the universities.