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CUT needs to get its finance in order

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A raucous debate in parliament this week brought to light the troubles that the Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) faces, following years of misuse of funds, lack of transparency and some using the institution as their own private playground.

The university was set up on wrong foundations, where politicians tried to impose their influence and some academics resisted. Nowadays, the courses being offered and the schools that run them are too diverse, some of which have no technology fundamentals.

Instead, it has become a competitor to the other state institution, the University of Cyprus. What’s more, Tepak has spread its wings beyond Limassol and has established a presence in Paphos with the school of tourism and plans a maritime research facility in Larnaca.

And this is where the problems are most obvious.

Professors from Limassol have demanded and secured a travel allowance in order to teach in Paphos, a ridiculous term by any standard, which simply shows that the agreement with the university’s administration was concluded under duress.

The university’s chief financial officer told MPs this week that he no longer wanted to be the budget controller due to the extreme pressure, abuse and harassment he faces, while staff and professors do not cooperate when it comes to settling their balances and submitting accounts.

The Rector is trying very hard to bring some order to this chaos which, admittedly, was not of his doing and he is mending year by year. But with the internal opposition he faces, he needs full political support in order to stand up to the internal bullies who are not interested in teaching, apart from getting their fat cheques at the end of the month.

Other universities around the world with fragmented structures are consolidating their operations, merging schools and even institutions in order to become an umbrella for excellence in education. Perhaps, what Tepak needs more is to reinforce its current status, build up a niche in specialisations and compete with international peers.

Schools and departments, new, old and dormant, need to rethink their curricula, in order for the Tepak to become a beacon of learning. And cooperation is needed at all levels is Cyprus ever hopes to realise its aspiration of someday becoming a regional centre of education.