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Cypruss Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Cypruss
Admissions to Higher Education in Cypruss
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Cypruss
Cycles of Higher Education in Cypruss
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


There are four categories of higher education institutions in Cyprus: public universities, private universities, public non-university level institutions and private non-university level institutions.

Public universities are founded as public corporate bodies to be academically autonomous governed by their Council and Senate. They are funded by the government, but they can raise money from other sources as well. All the three public universities in Cyprus are dedicated to excellence of teaching and research. The specific objectives and mission of each university are stated in its respective founding Law.

Public universities are multi-faculty institutions, each Faculty made up by Departments. Faculties and Departments are administered by Boards headed by Deans and Chairpersons respectively. They offer academic programmes at Batchelor, Master and Doctoral (Ph.D.) level. The Open University offers short professional courses in continuing education as well. The language of instruction is Greek and Turkish - the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus.

Private universities are founded as private law organisations of speculative or non-speculative character, registered with the Ministry of Education. As provided by Law 109(I)/2005 on Private Universities, the mission of each private university is the advancement of science, knowledge, learning and education through teaching and research for the benefit of society as a whole; the cultivation, transmission, implementation and exchange of knowledge through science; and, the provision of graduate and/or postgraduate education of a high standard that accepts international recognition. Private universities raise their funds from tuition fees.

Non-university level public institutions operate under other than the Ministry of Education and Culture ministries. Each ministry is wholly responsible for the organisation and regulation of the institution(s) under its remit, thus setting regulations for the type and level of courses, admission requirements, curricula and student enrolment, in collaboration with the Board of Management, Director and Faculty of the institution.

There are currently five public institutions operating at the non-university level. Their aim is to offer high-level education and training and produce high-calibre professionals in each respective field, according to the needs of labour market in Cyprus. The language of instruction is English or Greek.

Non-university level private institutions of higher education are registered with the Ministry of Education and Culture, according to Laws 67(I)/1996-1(I)/2010, which provide for their establishment, operation and control. Each institution sets its own aims and internal regulations with the approval of the Ministry. They offer vocational and academic programmes at various levels of study, such as the Certificate level (one-year duration), the Diploma level (two-year duration), the Higher Diploma level (three-year duration), the Bachelor level (four-year duration) and the Master level (one-year or two-year duration). Fields of study cover Secretarial Studies, Business Administration, Banking, Accountancy, Hotel Management, Computers and Engineering. Their programmes of study are accredited by the Council for Educational Evaluation and Accreditation – SEKAP (ΣΕΚΑΠ).


First Cycle Programmes

First Cycle Programmes are offered both at Bachelor and Short Cycle Higher Education level.


Bachelor

Branches of Study

Bachelor programmes of study are offered by public and private universities. Some non-university level private institutions also offer Bachelor programmes of study. The expected duration of studies for a Bachelor's degree is four years (eight semesters) except for Medicine with twelve semesters required. The ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) is applied by all public and private universities, with a number of at least 240 ECTS required for a student to graduate (one credit unit corresponding to 25-30 working hours of the course per semester).

Most of the Bachelors are disciplinary programmes offered by a Department of the university/institution. However, universities may allow for the establishment of interdisciplinary programmes proposed by interested Departments, provided that they have the approval of the Senate and the respective Faculties. As part of their 240 ECTS, students are usually required to attend a number of courses on Foreign Languages.

Bachelor programmes are offered within the following study fields: Humanities; Pure and Applied Science; Social Science and Education; Economics and Management; Letters; Engineering and Technology; Health Science; Medicine; Technological Science; Geotechnical Sciences and Environmental Management; Law; Fine and Applied Arts.

Admission Requirements

All three public universities follow a policy of restricted numbers of admission, which are set annually by the Council of the university and are approved by the Council of Ministers upon recommendation of the Minister of Education. Admissions to the undergraduate level of studies at the University of Cyprus and the University of Technology of Cyprus are based on the system of entrance examinations, namely the Pancyprian Examinations, which are set every June by the Ministry of Education and Culture according to the provisions of the relevant law. In order to be eligible for the examination, applicants must be Cypriot citizens with at least one Cypriot parent. They must also have a school-leaving certificate either from a lyceum, a technical school or a recognised private secondary school.

A small percentage of the total number of admissions is set on special criteria. These apply, amongst others, to Cypriot applicants of special categories (e.g. children of missing persons as a result of the Turkish invasion, persons with special needs, mature students); Greeks of the diaspora and Cypriots who belong to specific religious or ethnic groups; Turkish Cypriots; and, international students.

Admissions to the Open University of Cyprus are based on predetermined criteria and not on written examinations. Prospective students submit their applications online and on the basis of the set criteria they are ranked by an automated system of evaluation. In order to be eligible to apply to a course at the undergraduate level of studies, prospective students must be graduates of secondary level education and have a good knowledge of Greek. In addition, they must be able to adequately operate a personal computer and use the Internet. Ranking criteria include grades and number of years elapsed since graduating from secondary education, knowledge of foreign (European) languages, post secondary level diplomas and unemployment.

Admissions to private universities or private non-university level institutions are controlled by the Private Universities (Establishment, Operation and Control) Law N. 109(I)/2005 and its amendments, N. 197 (I)/2007 - N.74(I)/2011. A leaving certificate from a recognised school of secondary education or an equivalent qualification acquired in Cyprus or abroad, is usually required for admission to the Bachelor level of studies.

Curriculum

At the university level, the structure and nature of the curricula are determined by the Departmental Board of the University Department involved and they are approved by the Senate and the Council of the University.

Private non-university level institutions submit their courses and curricula to the Council for Educational Evaluation and Accreditation-SEKAP for approval.

Teaching Methods

Teaching methods and materials are decided on by the members of academic staff of Departments, either individually or in collaboration. Classes usually take the form of a lecture, tutorial or laboratory work, but they may also take the form of a seminar or exercise, according to the nature and requirements of the particular programmes of study. New technology is widely used. The Open University employs distance education methodology relying on digital technology, but without totally omitting face-to-face interaction. Other institutions also increasingly offer courses on the basis of distance learning.

Progression of Students

Student progression from one year/stage of studies to the next is based on the internal regulations of each institution. Students are promoted on the precondition that they have obtained at least the minimum pass mark (usually 50 %) in all prescribed evaluations and have attended at least a minimum required percentage of the programme (ranging from 75 % to 100 % in the different institutions).

At the University of Cyprus, if a student fails a compulsory subject, he/she has to repeat the subject until he/she passes (within the maximum time limit). If a student fails an elective subject, he/she can repeat the subject once. If the student fails the elective subject a second time, he/she must select an alternative elective subject. A student is removed from the Register of Students of the University if he/she is not able to complete the requirements of the programme of studies within the maximum time limit, which is twelve semesters for undergraduate studies. A student will also be removed from the Register of Students if he/she is absent for one semester and the University authorities are unable to contact him/her.

Similar provisions are followed for student progression at the Cyprus University of Technology.

Postponement of studies at the Open University may last up to two years, but only after successful completion of at least one Module. Removal from the Registry of Students of the Open University occurs when a student either decides to stop studying at the OUC, does not register for at least one Module (subject to the conditions of postponement of study), or has failed to successfully complete a Module for the second time.

Employability

Promoting the employability of higher education graduates is a policy priority for the Government. The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA), a semi-governmental organisation whose mission is to create the necessary prerequisites for the planned and systematic training and development of human resources in Cyprus, is currently running two programmes concerning young tertiary graduates' employability. The Scheme for Job Placement of Young Unemployed Tertiary Education Graduates in Enterprises/Organisations aims at giving the opportunity both to young graduates to gain work experience and to enterprises to make productive qualified manpower. The participants are offered a weekly training allowance of 125 Euro by the HRDA. The Scheme for the Employment of Young Tertiary Education Graduates in Enterprises/Organisations aims both at the improvement of the enterprises' competitiveness and giving opportunity to young graduates to gain work experience. In the framework of the programme the HRDA grants a subsidy to the employers. Further information is available on the HRDA's website.

Careers Offices operating in higher education institutions provide information on employment and career prospects. Although no official responsibility is taken by the institutions for the employment of their graduates, the guidance and counselling that are on offer very often lead to the placement of graduates in appropriate positions in their field in the public or private sectors.

Student Assessment

Every institution of higher education has an organised system of student assessment. Students are assessed internally by the teaching staff of the institution. Assessment methods include written and/or oral examinations at the mid-term or the end of a semester, continuous assessment focused on the student’s active participation, laboratory exercises, written or practical assignments, projects and dissertations. Written examinations are set by all the institutions.

Certification

Certification is the responsibility of each institution of higher education. Upon successful completion of the programme of studies the institution awards the Bachelor degree. The award of a Bachelor degree at the university level is subject to the approval of the Board of the Department.

The degrees of public institutions are recognised by KYSATS (The Cyprus Council for the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications). The degrees of private institutions are recognised on the precondition that the relevant programmes of studies have been accredited by SEKAP (Council for Educational Evaluation-Accreditation).


Short-Cycle Higher Education


Branches of Study

Short-cycle programmes of study at the undergraduate level are offered by three public and twenty-five private, non-university level institutions in Cyprus. Each of the three public institutions comes under the remit of a ministry other than the Ministry of Education and Culture. Private institutions are registered with the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Branches of study at the public institutes aim to offer high-level education and training and to produce high-calibre professionals in each respective field according to the needs of labour market in Cyprus, as follows:

• The Higher Hotel Institute offers a two-year diploma course in Hotel and Catering Operations (course offered in both Greek and English); and, a three-year higher diploma course in Culinary Arts (course offered in both Greek and English);

• The Cyprus Forestry College offers a three-year diploma course in Forestry aiming to provide theoretical and practical training at the technical level in the general principles of Forestry and Forestry Practice. The College also offers two courses for qualified overseas students - a six-month post diploma course leading to the award of the Higher Diploma in Forestry, and a short training course leading to the award of the Certificate in Forestry;

• The Cyprus Police Academy offers a three-year programme aiming to provide theoretical and practical training to police constables, leading to the award of a Diploma.

Non-university level private institutions of higher education offer short-cycle vocational and academic programmes, either at the Certificate level (one-year duration), the Diploma level (two-year duration) and the Higher Diploma level (three-year duration). Fields of study cover Secretarial Studies, Business Administration, Banking, Accountancy, Hotel Management, Computers and Engineering.

The programmes of study of the public institutions are approved by the Council of Ministers. The programmes of study of private institutes are accredited by the Council for Educational Evaluation and Accreditation – SEKAP.

Admission Requirements

As provided in the governing law for tertiary education (Laws (67(I)/1996 - 1(I)/2004), the number of students in each public institution is determined by a decision of the Council of Ministers, upon the recommendation of the responsible Minister. A school-leaving certificate from a secondary school in Cyprus or an equivalent qualification from abroad is a prerequisite for admission. In addition, all institutions running three-year diploma courses allocate potential students on the basis of the results obtained at the Pancyprian Examinations.

Private institutions set their own criteria for admission. A school leaving certificate of secondary education or equivalent qualification is a prerequisite.

Curriculum

Programmes of study of the public institutions are determined by the Council of Ministers based on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for the institution. Programmes of study of the private institutions are accredited by the Council for Educational Evaluation and Accreditation – SEKAP.

Teaching Methods

Teaching methods include lectures, tutorials and practical training. Deciding on the teaching methods to be followed is the responsibility of the teacher.

Progression of Students

Progression of students is based on the relevant regulations of each institution. Students are promoted on the precondition that they have obtained at least the minimum pass mark (usually 50 %) in all prescribed evaluations and have attended at least a minimum required percentage of the programme (ranging from 75 % to 100 % in the different institutions). If a student fails an examination, he/she is required to resit it. The number of times that a student is permitted to resit an examination differs from one institution to the other. If a student fails all resits, he/she is not permitted to continue his/her studies.

Employability

Careers Offices operating in higher education institutions provide information on employment and career prospects. Although no official responsibility is taken by the institutions for the employment of their graduates, the guidance and counselling that are on offer, very often lead to the placement of graduates in appropriate positions in their field in the public or private sectors.

Student Assessment

Every institution of higher education has an organised system of student assessment. Students are assessed internally by the teaching staff of the institution. Additional examinations set by external bodies are conducted only in the Cyprus Forestry College. Assessment methods include written and/or oral examinations at the mid-term or the end of a semester, continuous assessment focused on the student’s active participation, laboratory exercises, written or practical assignments, projects and dissertations. Written examinations are set by all the institutions.

Certification

Certification is the responsibility of each institution of higher education. Upon successful completion of the programme of studies the institution awards its own diploma. According to Law 68(I)/1996, the diplomas awarded by the public institutions are recognised by KYSATS. The degrees of private institutions are not recognised unless they have been accredited by SEKAP.


Second Cycle Programmes


Branches of Study

Second cycle (Master) programmes are offered by public and private universities as well as non-university level private institutions of higher education. Master (MA and MSc) programmes can be offered by a university/institution department individually, by two or more departments or in cooperation with other universities/institutions. Students can study either full-time or part-time. A full-time student is one who attends a minimum of 21 ECTS per semester (1 credit unit corresponding to 25-30 working hours of the course per semester). Requirements for completion of a Master degree usually include:

• Full-time attendance for a minimum of three semesters (maximum duration of attendance set at eight semesters);

• Successful completion of 90-120 ECTS in taught lessons;

• In case that the programme requires a dissertation, the number of ECTS allocated to its completion should not exceed ˝ of the total number of ECTS required for the whole programme.

Master programmes are offered in all study fields covered by Bachelor programmes, as they were detailed in section 7.2: First Cycle Programmes.

Admission Requirements

All three public universities follow a policy of restricted numbers of admission, which are set annually by the Council of the university and are approved by the Council of Ministers upon recommendation of the Minister of Education. A university level education is a prerequisite for admission to the Master level of education. Additional criteria are set by the public universities, such as academic ranking, letters of recommendation, personal interview at the discretion of each Department and possible additional criteria that a Department may adopt. Admission criteria set by the Open University of Cyprus also include years elapsed since obtaining a first degree and working experience relevant to the course. Selection of students is made by the institutions themselves.

Curriculum

Postgraduate studies at the university level are subject to the Postgraduate Studies Regulations of each university. The postgraduate programmes of each Department are supervised by a three-member Postgraduate Programmes Committee appointed by the Departmental Board for a two-year term. The department appoints an Academic Supervisor for every student in the Postgraduate Programme, who will offer guidance to the student throughout the programme of study. In case that the programme of studies requires the writing of a dissertation, a Research Councellor is assigned to every student.

Teaching Methods

Progression of Students

During his/her studies, the student’s average grade must be at least 5, the maximum grade being 10. If, in a semester, the student’s average grade is lower than 5, the student is placed on probation. If in the following semester the student’s average grade remains below 5, the student’s case is discussed by the Departmental Board and the possibility of expulsion from the Postgraduate Programme is raised.

In the case of failure in a postgraduate course, a Masters degree student is allowed to repeat it once. A second failure in the same course results in the expulsion of the student from the Postgraduate Programme. If a dissertation is rejected, the student is allowed to resubmit it once.

Employability

Careers Offices operating in higher education institutions provide information on employment and career prospects. Although no official responsibility is taken by the institutions for the employment of their graduates, the guidance and counselling that are on offer very often lead to the placement of graduates in appropriate positions in their field in the public or private sectors.

Student Assessment

An organised system for student assessment is provided by internal regulations of each institution. Students are assessed internally by the teaching staff of the institution. Student evaluation is the exclusive right of the individual teacher. Assessment methods include written and/or oral examinations at the mid-term or the end of a semester, continuous assessment focused on the student’s active participation, laboratory exercises, written or practical assignments, projects and dissertations. Written examinations at the end of a semester are set in all cases. The minimum pass mark is usually set at 50%, e.g. 5 on a scale 0-10. In a Master’s programme some courses (not exceeding 25% of the taught part) may be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Master dissertations are qualitatively evaluated as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Failed.

Certification

Certification is the responsibility of each institution of higher education. Upon successful completion of the programme of studies the institution awards the Master degree. The award of a Master’s degree at the university level is subject to the approval of the Board of the Department. The degrees of public institutions are recognised by KYSATS. The degrees of private institutions are not recognised unless the relevant programmes of studies have been accredited by SEKAP.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


There are no integrated programmes leading directly to a second cycle degree in Cyprus.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Currently, all faculties and departments of state universities offer doctorate programmes. Main branches of study include Humanities, Pure and Applied Sciences, Social Science and Education, Economics and Management, Law, Engineering, Letters and Health Sciences. The language of instruction must be one of the official languages of the universities (Greek and Turkish). A programme may be offered in another language, provided that it is offered in one of the official languages too. Postgraduate programmes offered in cooperation with other universities within an EU programme, e.g. Erasmus Mundus, can be offered in an international language without any precondition.

Two PhD programmes in Education and a PhD, interdepartmental, programme in Engineering are offered, since September 2010, by private universities in Cyprus. Also, the Cyprus Institute, a non-profit science and technology research and educational institute, established in 2005, offers three doctoral programmes approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture, in the following study fields: Computational Sciences; Digital Cultural Heritage; and, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences.

Most of the doctoral programmes on offer are three-year duration programmes consisting of a taught part and a dissertation. They are based on the ECTS credit system with about 240 ECTS required for their completion, of which 120 will be earned through the research part of the programme. The doctoral title is awarded following a successful submission and defence of an original dissertation constituting an important contribution to the particular discipline.

Admission Requirements

All three public universities follow a policy of restricted numbers of admission, which are set annually by the Council of the university and are approved by the Council of Ministers upon recommendation of the Minister of Education. In order to apply for a PhD degree, prospective students must hold a Master’s degree in a related subject. Selection of students is made by the institutions themselves.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Cypriots and EU citizens being full-time doctoral students in Cyprus are entitled to free healthcare in public hospitals. Students from out with the EU countries are obliged to arrange on their own for a private insurance.

Doctoral students are often put in priority as regards part-time or full-time appointments as researchers in research programmes run by academic staff of the respective department. They may also be given teaching/tutoring duties under the supervision of permanent academic staff of the institution.

Supervision Arrangements

Every student in a postgraduate programme is assigned an Academic Supervisor who will offer guidance to the student throughout the programme of study. Every doctoral student is assigned a Research Supervisor too. The Research Supervisor is appointed by the Board of the Department upon a recommendation of the Postgraduate Programmes Committee of the Department and he/she is responsible for guiding the student in his/her research and providing the necessary support and advice.

Employability

Careers Offices operating in higher education institutions provide information on employment and career prospects. No industrial staff is involved either in the development of course curricula or as external examiners in the assessment of students.

Assessment

A PhD title is awarded upon completion of the following course requirements:

• A minimum of 6 semesters duration of studies (the maximum course duration being 16 semesters);

• Success in a comprehensive examination until the fifth semester of studies, at the latest;

• Successful defense of a doctoral thesis, which must be original and constitute an important contribution to the relevant knowledge field.

Comprehensive examinations are set annually by the Department concerned, which is responsible for the content and the management of the examination.

The doctoral thesis must be defended, in an open 30-45 minute presentation, before a five-member examining Committee determined by the Board of the Department. If a PhD dissertation is rejected, the candidate is allowed to resubmit it once. The conditions of resubmission are determined in writing by the Examining Committee.

Certification

Certification is the responsibility of each institution of higher education. Upon successful completion of the programme of studies the institution awards the Doctoral degree. The award of a PhD degree at the university level is subject to the approval of the Senate of the university. The degrees of public institutions are recognised by KYSATS. The degrees of private institutions are not recognised unless the relevant programmes of studies have been accredited by SEKAP.

Organisational Variations

The Open University of Cyprus is dedicated to distance learning. Unlike the conventional university, students at the Open University have the opportunity to pursue their studies in a flexible way as regards place, time and pace.

Curricula is structured on modules and are based on the system of European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Teaching methods are based on distance learning approaches relying on ICT technology.

The Open University is currently offering doctoral programmes in Health Care Administration; Educational Sciences; Information Technology; Greek Culture; Greek Language and Literature; Theatre Studies; Environmental Management and Protection; and, Communication and Journalism.


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