The education minister noted that government efforts to make the country a regional education hub have proved successful as the number of foreign students has almost tripled in the past three years.
Kadis told the members of the House education committee that more than 8,300 foreign students were registered in tertiary education institutions during the academic year of 2012-2013. Meanwhile, according to statistical services, last year the number topped 17,600 and according to his ministry’s own data, there were more than 21,000 foreign students.
As part of the goal to increase numbers, the government has supported the expansion of state and private universities so that they can offer more attractive study programmes. The Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education was also established as another measure taken to boost tertiary education. The agency, which was established in 2015, is responsible for ensuring the quality of higher education in Cyprus and for overseeing improvements to higher education institutions and their programmes of study. Furthermore, agreements signed with other countries on cooperation in the field of higher education and on the mutual recognition of qualifications has also helped in increasing the numbers of foreign students. According to the minister, huge prospects had been opened up with such agreements signed with Russia and China. Kadis also mentioned that he recently discussed with the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency the interest of foreign universities in setting up operations in Cyprus, which would lead to even more students from abroad.
The minister dismissed recent data that showing a decrease in the numbers of Cypriots receiving tertiary education. He noted that in 2010, 45% of Cypriot youth had been in tertiary education, while in 2015 the percentage rose to 55%, which is higher than the EU average. The EU’s goal is that by 2020 all member states reach 40%, and we are already at 55%. According to Kadis, what should trouble us, is ways to keep these scientists in Cyprus.