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Popularity of Higher Education in Cyprus

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Mary Ioannidou-Koutselini, Chairperson of the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (DI.P.A.E.). PhD, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the Department of Education of the University of Cyprus, the Chair holder of the UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment of the University of Cyprus. Coordinator of 15 international European and national research programs within the area of expertise; a member of national, European and international academic associations and scientific editorial boards. Expert of the working groups of the European Committee and advisory global European and national councils and networks. Worked as a member of the external review panel of universities, research and teaching staff in Cyprus and abroad. Author of 15 books and over 150 research publications.

 


Mediterranean outpost of the European Union

The Republic of Cyprus is the third largest (9,251 km2) and most populous (over 866 thousand people) island in the Mediterranean. It is located at the crossroad of the sea routes linking three parts of the world—Europe, Asia and Africa. The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, thus, becoming a southeastern outpost of the EU. The Cypriot government adopted the euro as the national currency in 2008.


Well-educated country

Tertiary education is highly demanded among Cypriots: the country is characterized by the rapid increase in the number of students. For the period from 1995 to 2012 the number of students enrolled in Cyprus universities almost tripled from 7,763 students in the 1995-1996 academic year to 23,232 students in 2011-2012. The body of Cypriot students is highly mobile, in the same year over 19 thousand students entered educational institutions outside Cyprus. This positive dynamics in pursuing degree studies made Cyprus one of the countries with the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education. For reference: 39.2% citizens aged from 25 to 64 are highly educated specialists with a Higher Education Diploma and the knowledge of several foreign languages.


From across the globe

In fact, English proficiency is one of the competitive advantages of the Republic of Cyprus. It is one of the reasons why many international students come here to pursue their degrees.

Another advantage of higher education in Cyprus is its affordability along with high quality according to expert estimates. Moreover, higher education diplomas granted by Cyprus universities and colleges (both offer tertiary education), and PhDs are recognized all over the world.

The strategic goal is set—Cyprus should become a regional center of quality higher education and research.

As a result, Cyprus universities and colleges attract a large number of international students with a sustainable growing tendency: from 1995-1996 to 2011-2012 academic years the number of international students in Cyprus increased more than fivefold from 1,511 to 8,540 people. The Mediterranean island republic welcomes students from the EU countries as well as from India, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Russia, and many others.


Focus on quality

Cyprus is a full member of the Bologna Process since 2001. Therefore, the higher education here is compatible with the principles of the Bologna Declaration, and organization and operation of the educational process is based on standards and recommendations adopted by the European Higher Education Area. The Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and other national authorities responsible for policy and quality in education have set the following strategic goal—Cyprus should become a regional center of quality higher education and research.

Proficiency in English is one of the competitive advantages of the Republic of Cyprus.

Adoption of the new national legislation aimed at the development of higher education in Cyprus has become a significant event on the way to this goal. Thus, Article 20 of the National Constitution has become the core humanitarian and legal reference of this document. The Article states that every citizen of Cyprus has the right to receive education of the relevant standard and quality. In compliance with the new law a new body was established in 2015 meant to ensure the quality of higher education in Cyprus—Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education, DI.P.A.E.


Institutional coordinator

The new agency assumed the responsibilities of the Council of Educational Evaluation-Accreditation (CEEA), the Advisory Committee for Tertiary Education (ACTE), and the Evaluation Committee of Private Universities (ECPU), which used to fulfil these functions. In addition to the responsibilities that the above mentioned bodies had, the Agency, as a full member of INQAAHE, is responsible for the following:

• institutional, departmental and programmatic evaluation and accreditation of higher education;

• quality assurance in higher education on the basis of the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG);

• the Evaluation and Accreditation of cross-border forms of education, offered by local institutions in member states or third countries;

• assessment of the conditions for the provision of cross-border education from foreign institutions in Cyprus;

• assessment of inter-institutional cooperation of higher education institutions;

• the provision of information of Quality Assurance in higher education.

Most importantly, the legislation provides for the Agency’s independence and autonomy. According to one of the Articles of the Law, the Agency shall be independent to the extent required to do its work autonomously and to exercise independently its functions so that its conclusions and recommendations contained in the evaluation reports shall not be influenced by third parties such as higher education institutions, ministries or others.


Common goal

All the organizations involved in and responsible for the development and implementation of the national educational policy take part in meeting the strategic goal of making Cyprus a regional center of quality higher education.

Beside Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education mentioned above, it is worthwhile mentioning the Council of Recognition of Higher Qualifications (KYSATS) established over 20 years ago. KYSATS is the competent authority of the Republic of Cyprus for the recognition of higher education qualifications. It also acts as the National Education and Information Center. KYSATS is a member of the NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centers), ENIC (European Network of National Information Centers on academic recognition and mobility) and MERIC (Mediterranean Recognition Information Centers) networks.

Cyprus is classified as one of the countries with the most rapidly growing amount of research expenditures.

The “core actors” of the contemporary higher education are higher educational institutions committed to develop the internal quality culture.


Rapidly growing sector

Nowadays Cyprus is classified as one of the countries with the most rapidly growing research expenditures. There is an obvious reason for that: at present Cyprus universities are focusing on the development of the university science, one of the pillars of quality education. Cyprus universities aim to become the centers of research excellence within the framework of their academic activity. For this reason they establish an extensive cooperative network between research centers and educational institutions in Cyprus and abroad in order to improve and enhance the university community, the country and the whole European area.

Main goals and objectives of higher education in Cyprus
  • Quality improvement of higher education due to Bologna Process support.
  • Active involvement in the Bologna Process and implementation of its principles.
  • Active participation in Cyprus development as a regional center of education and research.
  • Increase in the number of students enrolled in science, technology and communication programs.
  • Promoting the principle of the knowledge triad (education, research and innovations), thus, achieving top positions in the field of research, technologies and innovations in higher education.
  • Making Cyprus more attractive and accessible for international students.
  • Increased efficiency of management and financing of educational institutions.
  • Promoting academic mobility of students and staff.

Contacts

Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (DI.P.A.E.)

Kimonos and Thoukydidou Corner, Lefkosia, 1434

Tel.: + 357 22806304, + 357 22800986

Fax.: + 357 22800645

E-mail: info@dipae.ac.cy