UCy: when will it grow up?

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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