Paphos’ visions of becoming a magnet for higher education are realised as the American University of Beirut (AUB) is to launch its Cyprus campus there in a show of confidence.
The AUB Mediteranneo, as the university’s twin campus will be called, is ready to welcome its first students, giving the town a well-deserved boost.
It will be joining two more major universities operating in the island’s smallest town, following the successful operation of Neapolis University and the recent decision by the Technical University of Cyprus (TEPAK) to set up a tourism school.
Talking to the Financial Mirror, Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos said the town is feeling the hype as it celebrates the university’s first year of operation, attracting nearly 2,000 students.
AUB’s Cyprus campus is situated at the old Carob Mills on the road leading to Kato Paphos. The campus covers an area of 10,000 square metres.
Phedonos said AUB Mediterraneo would boost the town’s economy and attractiveness to businesses.
“We are currently in the last stretch of preparations, with the opening celebration planned to take place in the first half of September,” said Phedonos.
The Paphos Mayor confirmed that work at the university’s campus is expected to be completed on time for the grand opening.
“There is a small delay, as work is estimated to be some 18 days behind, but we are confident that developers will be making up for lost ground as they work around the clock.”
In the unlikely case that developers cannot deliver on time, the municipality has a Plan B. It will offer the university the facilities of the Paphos Innovation Centre.
“Paphos will be placed in a prominent position on the world education map, as this will be the first time that an internationally accredited university from abroad is establishing a campus on the island”.
The American University of Beirut is a private, non-sectarian, and independent university chartered in New York with its campus in Beirut, Lebanon.
“We are optimistic that not only will the impact be felt by the increase and improvement of higher academic standards, but we can expect that it will create ripple effects of a positive nature felt far beyond higher education”.
He argued that while Cyprus has been attracting high-tech companies, the island lacks IT skills, meaning these companies need to bring staff from abroad.
“We hope to close the gap, as AUB will be attracting some of the brightest minds in the region.
“Many of them will love to have the opportunity to work with a high-tech company in Cyprus.
“Education will strengthen Paphos striving to enter a new era.
“We have plans to build more educational institutions that will act as ‘engines’ for innovation and ‘catalysts’ for sustainable development.
“Students and universities are the beacons of development on all levels.
“From a financial point of view, they create new jobs and demand in the market to push society forward.”
Esme Palas, Barrister at Law, Partner at Michael Kyprianou and Co LLC Paphos partner, said two universities setting up campuses in the town promises a brighter future.
“We expect that it will add a profound economic value to our town, and it shall have a significant social impact,” Palas told the Financial Mirror.
“It is anticipated that the addition of a few thousand students shall directly or indirectly affect a variety of industries such as administrative, hospitality, healthcare, retail services and the real estate sector.”
She said the influx of students would create demand for accommodation, and the real estate sector would be expected to meet these needs.
“Currently, there is a lack of rental properties, which could lead to developers undertaking new projects to provide student dorms or converting existing properties that could also be used to house students.”
Families of international students in Paphos may opt to buy property to rent out to future students.
“The necessity to meet student housing needs will boost sales and give a much-needed push to the local construction industry“.
An independent board of trustees governs AUB and offers bachelor, masters, MD, and PhD degrees.
AUB has an operating budget of $423 mln and an approximately $768 mln endowment.
The language of instruction is English. Degrees awarded at the university are officially registered with the New York Board of Regents.
AUB Mediterraneo offers Bachelor of Sciences degrees in Computer Science, Psychology, Industrial Engineering, Business Administration in Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
The AUB Paphos campus will offer a Master of Science in Engineering Management and one in Business Analytics.
AUB was contacted but said they could not comment at the present stage on how their Paphos plans are unfolding.