Education in Cyprus is thriving sector, boasting thousands of overseas students enrolled in the island’s many universities, a constant upgrade of facilities and accommodation, and the introduction of new degrees to cater to the demands of an ever-growing population of high calibre students. Indeed, education is considered a strategic sector for Cyprus, one that is continuously being promoted and developed, with the aim of establishing the island as an international education centre of excellence. In fact, Cyprus spends more than 7% of its GDP on education, the third-highest share in the European Union after Denmark and Sweden.
PUBLIC EDUCATION IN CYPRUS
Cyprus boasts a free, public education system that is available to all its citizens. Full-time education is mandatory for all children aged 5 to 15. It consists of the following stages:
Pre-primary education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 4.5 and 5.5, though any child over the age of 3 can attend pre-primary school. This level of education aims to introduce children to an experiential environment that will help develop their capabilities and personalities, and equip them for the start of primary school.
Primary education is compulsory for all children over the age of 5.5, and has a duration of 6 years, beginning with Year 1. Public Primary education in Cyprus provides a safe and secure environment for all children to experience equal learning opportunities, regardless of age, sex, family and socioeconomic backgrounds and mental abilities.
Secondary education in Cyprus is divided into two three-year cycles. The first is lower secondary education, or ‘Gymnasium,’ for students aged 12-15 while the second is upper secondary education, or ‘Lyceum,’ for students aged 15-18. The wide-ranging curriculum includes core classes, interdisciplinary subjects, and a variety of extra-curricular activities for a holistic educational experience.
For their secondary education, students may choose to attend a Secondary Technical and Vocational School, which offer a more specialized curriculum that equips students with relevant knowledge and skills that will allow them to enter the workforce or pursue further studies in their area of interest.
Cyprus offers students the option of attending a Public Institution of Tertiary Education upon graduating from Secondary School. These schools offer vocational education and training in specific technical and professional fields, which leads to a Higher Diploma. Tertiary Education Institutions in Cyprus include the following:
Post-Secondary Institutes of Vocational Education and Training: two-year courses in developing sectors, with an emphasis on specialized knowledge and skills.
The Cyprus Forestry College, a governmental institution within the Departments of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.
The Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus, a governmental institution offering diploma programmes in Hotel and Catering Operations and Culinary Arts.
The Mediterranean Institute of Management, which is Cyprus’s first business school and offers managerial training through two Postgraduate Programs, MBAs, and MPAs, taught in both English and Greek.
The Police Academy of Cyprus, the main institution of Police Training and Education in Cyprus, which operates under the Ministry of Justice and Public Order.
The Cyprus School for Tourists Guides, which offers a one-year course and examinations to become a licensed tour guide for the Ministry of Tourism.
Private Education IN CYPRUS
The public and private school systems run concurrently with each other in Cyprus, and parents have the option of choosing between the two based on what is right for their child and his needs. While public education is funded by local taxes, private school tuition fees are independently funded and cannot be covered by the state. Teachers in both educational systems uphold the same high standard of qualifications, and the school systems comply with the regulations set forth by the Ministry of Education.
As Cyprus grows increasingly multicultural, private schools are gaining in popularity. This is because they are home to a large international student base, and conduct the majority of their classes in English. Graduates of private secondary schools in Cyprus obtain a School Leaving Certificate that is recognized by the Ministry of Education. They also have the option to take GCSE and A Level exams, which prepare them for studies in the United Kingdom and other European institutions.
There are a total of 39 registered private secondary schools, of which 15 are located in Limassol.
The most popular private schools among parents in Limassol include:
A British day-school with an international enrolment catering to all age groups, from 4 years (Pre-Reception) to 18 or 19 years. There are approximately 45 different nationalities represented at Foley’s school, with a large majority that have English as their mother tongue. English is the language of instruction, and the school places strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities, including sports, drama, dance, music and school trips abroad.
The Grammar School (located in both Limassol and Nicosia) is a co-educational primary and secondary Gymnasium and Lyceum school, open to students of all nationalities and governed by a Board of Directors. The Grammar School in Limassol was established in 1975. It is known for its small classroom numbers, state-of-the-art facilities, and its multinational faculty and student body.
The Heritage is one of the island’s most culturally diverse schools, with 800 students from all across the globe and a British Council International School Award for outstanding development of the international dimension of their curriculum. All teaching is conducted in English. The school’s premises boasts a 1500 seat amphitheatre for hosting school and community musical and dramatic productions and art exhibitions, as well as well-equipped science and computer laboratories, library, study desks, and sports facilities.
Founded in 1993, the L.I.T.C. Russian-English private school traditionally welcomes students of Eastern European backgrounds from ages 4 to 17. It follows the curriculum of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, with an emphasis on the English language. English is taught daily, and the subject of Mathematics is taught in English to better prepare students for International GCSE exams. Greek is also taught twice a week.
Though Cyprus has always placed strong focus on the education of its population, many students traditionally chose to pursue their higher education abroad. Today, however, the landscape is vastly different. With three public universities and five private universities, many of which have forged links and cooperative agreements with reputable universities across the globe, more and more Cypriots are choosing to attend university at home. Sprawling university campuses and new additions of libraries and high-end accommodation all contribute to meet the demands of ever-increasing numbers of students. In fact, the number of foreign students choosing Cyprus for their studies has almost tripled in the last five years, representing more than 60 different countries, and helping propel the island into becoming a true global education centre.
There is stiff competition for places at Cyprus’s public universities, which enjoy growing international acclaim and charge no fees for undergraduates from EU countries, and very competitive rates for postgraduate studies. Public universities mainly instruct in Greek, though some are offering more courses in English in an effort to attract more foreign students.
The island’s first university was established in 1989. Based in the capital, Nicosia, it is a dynamic, public, research-intensive institution that has consistently been rendered one of the leading institutions in Europe. It has ranked #601-700 in the Shanghai List 2019 and #351-400 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019. With a focus on science and creativity, UCY is well on its way to becoming a leading institution in the greater Euro-Mediterranean area.
It has enrolment of around 7,000 students, and boasts 113 laboratories and 800 faculty and staff members, making it the largest employer of young researchers in Cyprus. Moreover, it currently employs approximately 700 young scientists through external research funds. Its 8 faculties and 22 departments offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
The second of the island’s three state universities is located in Limassol. It was founded in 2003, and welcomed its first students in 2007. CUT has developed into a modern, pioneering, and internationally recognised university, offering education and high-level research in economic, technological and scientific fields.
The university offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes in all its departments. There are currently six Academic Faculties operating within the University, from Management and Economics to Engineering and Technology, hosting a total of 12 Academic Departments, plus an International Institute and a Language Centre.
The Open University of Cyprus (OUC) was established in 2002 and is the only institution in Cyprus dedicated to lifelong learning and distance education. Its focus is to design and deliver undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as training and vocational programmes to serve the needs of the wider community. The degrees awarded by the OUC are equivalent to those of all accredited universities worldwide.
Private universities in Cyprus generate revenue through tuition fees, and generally attract a higher number of international non-EU students. This is because, compared to many other countries, Cyprus offers a value-for-money education and qualifications recognised by EU member states, and is validated by accreditation agencies of various countries. Beyond the affordability, however, it is the high academic standards that are attracting growing numbers of students from countries as far and wide as the United States, Canada, Australia, and even New Zealand.
Entry requirements to private higher education institutions in Cyprus are the same as those to European universities. Candidates are required to have a certificate of completed secondary education, as well adequate TOEFL or IELT results. Many universities also offer a wide range of language courses for students who do not have the prerequisite number of credits in English.
The European University has gained local, regional and global recognition as a student-focused and innovative institution, with an emphasis on international orientation, sustainability, and industry and community engagement. With a 60+ year history, the European University has grown into a leading academic and research institution with Schools of Medicine, Sciences, Business, Law, Humanities, Social & Education Sciences, and a Distance Education Unit.
Though only established as a University in 2007, the organisation behind Frederick University has a long history of more than 50 years in higher education. It operates out of two campuses, one in Nicosia and one in Limassol. It offers a broad range of academic programs of study in the areas of Science, Engineering, Business, Arts, Architecture, Media, Humanities, Health, and Education. The University has a strong focus on academic research, being one of the leading research organisations in the country.
A modern and innovative educational hub, the University of Nicosia is particularly known for its equal opportunity, student-centred system that extends its educational boundaries to all corners of the world. As an entrepreneurial digital university, it offers more than 100 on-campus and distance learning online programs at the undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels, and hosts more than 11,500 students from around the world in a multicultural learning environment.
A newcomer to the educational landscape of Cyprus, Neaoplis is a fast-growing university that has been operating in Paphos since 2010. It offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in both Greek and English, and employs a faculty of international lecturers and researchers from leading European and American universities.
Known as the British University of Cyprus, UCLAN Cyprus is located in Larnaca and is the first branch campus of the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom that is also a fully licensed University in Cyprus. Now in its eighth year of operation, UCLAN Cyprus offers students a unique and innovative model of a Cypriot and British University educational experience, bridging the UK and Europe in terms of research, academic standards, student experience, and student exchange. Completion of studies at UCLAN Cyprus results in a Double Degree from UCLAN UK and UCLAN Cyprus.