With renewed emphasis on cultivating a knowledge-based economy, Cyprus’ education sector is expanding and diversifying to meet market demands.
Cypriots have always valued education and learning, and while prizing their own languages and culture, they have also long had a realistic understanding of the importance of English in today’s globalised markets. The island has a highly educated English-speaking workforce, with over half of all 30 to 34 year-olds educated to degree level. The country’s five private universities maintain consistently high academic standards, and are acutely aware of the need to keep ahead of the curve by offering English-language teaching of vocationally relevant courses that reflect the changing commercial climate.
Responding to Market Trends
The recent discovery of offshore oil and gas in Cypriot territorial waters prompted the University of Nicosia to offer the island’s first BSc programme in energy, oil and gas management, as part of an attempt to educate the industry executives of the future to assume roles in the emerging oil and gas sector in Cyprus. Others have followed this trend, such as the European University of Cyprus, which has also placed strong focus on revising its courses in response to changes in the business climate and in student demand. One of its latest offers is a masters degree in civil and environmental engineering, a course which incorporates the study of the impact of climate change and earthquake risk on construction.
Frederick University, based in Nicosia and Limassol, is also attempting to maximise the potential of Cyprus’ natural geographical advantages. Its existing course in maritime studies will soon be complemented by an LLB in maritime and shipping law.
As part of their efforts to anticipate market demand and provide vocationally relevant courses, higher education institutions in Cyprus have always been particularly responsive to international collaborations and partnerships. The first British university to be established on the island, The University of Central Lancashire Cyprus, (UCLAN-Cyprus) offers a degree in the rapidly expanding field of cyber security. The University also offers courses in business, law and the sciences and provides students with a unique opportunity to study in both Cyprus and the UK.
The University of Nicosia adopted a slightly different collaborative model in 2011, when it formed a partnership with London University and its leading teaching hospital, St Georges. This led to the establishment of the island’s first medical school which now offers six year undergraduate entry and four year graduate entry medical degree programmes. The state-funded University of Cyprus, which teaches mainly in Greek, soon followed and is now in the process of establishing its own medical school.
Also under the umbrella of the University of Nicosia, is the recently launched Cyprus Maritime Academy. The institution provides students with valuable insight through close collaboration with renowned shipping companies, and supports the local industry by providing qualified crew for a continuously evolving and technologically advancing sector.
The University of Cyprus, which is the only academic institution in Cyprus to rank in the top 1,000 universities in the world, has also raised the bar in academia. During the past 18 months, the university increased its world ranking by an astounding 134 places, according to Webometrics rankings, which assess more than 20,000 universities worldwide.
Attracting Students Worldwide
Since Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, the number of foreign students studying on the island has doubled. There is undoubtedly great potential for further international academic collaboration as well as investment opportunities in the higher education sector, with both the government and the private sector setting out ambitious plans to develop the island into a regional education centre.
Today 30% of the island’s students, around 8,000, are foreigners, and it’s easy to see why. The widespread use of English, the application of EU standards, a first-class infrastructure, a safe environment and good weather, all make the island an ideal place for foreign students seeking a rigorous, value-for-money education.
Perhaps the strongest testaments to the Cypriot respect for education is the success of the government-funded Open University (OU), which was founded in 2002, as the island’s second, state-funded institute of higher education. The Cyprus OU continues to offer flexible, modular learning programmes that provide career and personal development opportunities for students already in the workplace, part of the state’s commitment to life-long learning.
Educating Future Leaders
It is important to note the island’s rapidly diversifying primary and secondary education sectors. Although all government-funded schools teach primarily through the medium of Greek, there is a long-standing tradition dating from colonial times, of providing English-language education to equip the next generation for the jobs market.
The English School was established in 1900 to provide English speaking clerical staff for the British administration. It is now one of a growing number of international schools, including Falcon, The American Academy, The Junior and Senior Schools of Nicosia, and the Terra Santa School, to name only a few, that teach to a British, American, or French curriculum and where students generally work towards either ‘A’ levels, or the International Baccalaureate.
The American Academy also has flourishing branches in Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol. Recent years have seen the establishment of Russian schools in Nicosia and Limassol in an effort to keep pace with growing demand from a large Eastern European expat community.
A Growing Education Hub
A combination of rigorous educational standards, combined with Cypriot entrepreneurship and informality, make Cyprus a highly desirable place both to study and to recruit a skilled, well-qualified workforce. The country’s geographic position and EU membership also provides opportunities for students originating from third countries to acquire qualifications recognised by the EU. With Cyprus’ standing as one of the top growing economies in Europe, it is certain to attract more talent and bolster its efforts to develop the island as a major educational hub in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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Updated: May 2017