UCy: when will it grow up?
E DII TO RII A L
The University of Cyprus faces a serious dilemma, which has dogged the island’s premier educational institution ever since it was established – is it the University of Cyprus or the University of Greek Cypriots?
In its past 25 years, the university, and all those who have defended (rightfully) its academic independence have considered the greater public good as its main mission. And so it should be.
But repeated efforts by so-called nationalists, or “patriots” as they like to call themselves, refuse to consider the UCy ever becoming an international educational institution of excellence, that happens to be based in Cyprus and its main focus is Cyprusrelated studies. Instead, they want to maintain the “Greek character” of the university, and we have seen endless efforts by meddling politicians, many of whom have no right to talk about free education in the first place.
Only this week, the university’s Senate decided to set the record straight as regards enrolling students already accepted in other universities, based on their International Baccalaureate, GCE or other equivalent, although a bit late for this year’s freshers. In other words, the majority of students who have graduated from private schools or even those from public schools who have opted for international exams in order to secure a place at a foreign university.
Perhaps, this is also an opportunity for the UCy to benchmark its own entrance criteria against that of the privately-funded universities within Cyprus, which will settle the score, once and for all, in this private-public rivalry. A foolish conflict at a time when education should become the driving force of our struggling economy, and turn the island into a truly education centre of excellence in the region.
All the noise created by a bunch of racist students (provoked by brainless teacher unions) aimed to serve one interest only – to keep the University of Cyprus under control to ensure that only half-witted students are accepted, by default, and to justify the poor level of academic teaching of the public sector in general.
The Senate was very right to say that accepting the aforementioned students “serve the academic principles of the University and the needs of the youth of Cyprus.” These efforts, it said, aim to “create opportunities, social progress and development,” based on the essence of science and excellence. After all, Cypriot students should be allowed to study wherever they like.
It is high time that the UCy adopted an international image and appealed to non-Cypriot students as well, whereas some foreign institutions pride themselves of their high level of intake of international students. Only then will it be able to break out of the conservative ideas of the past century and strive to compete with leading universities of the world, something it will never be able to do at present, no matter how hard some truly deserving academics and researchers try.