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Cyprus: Brexit prompts surge in students

Brexit uncertainty has prompted a surge in international students heading to Cyprus, where their numbers have grown by more than 10,000 since 2016. With more than 27,000 non-Cypriot students in the country, there are now more international students than local ones.

CyprusWith their status as students in the UK uncertain, some students are turning to Cyprus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"Cyprus... is gradually but steadily becoming one of the beneficiaries of the uncertainty over Brexit"

According to figures from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth, of the 51,086 students enrolled in courses for the 2018/19 academic year, 47% were Cypriot, 35% came from elsewhere in the EU and 18% from non-EU destinations.

“Over the last few years, Cyprus has demonstrated significant growth in foreign students and is gradually but steadily becoming one of the beneficiaries of the uncertainty over Brexit,” George Campanellas, the director-general of the country’s promotion agency, Invest Cyprus, said.

“The phenomenal increase in international students has given a boost to the local economy”

The influx of students plays into plans by the government to establish the island as a European hub for research and academics, despite being a relative newcomer to the world of higher education. The oldest university in Cyprus was set up in 1989.

The drive to internationalise the country’s higher education industry has been strongly supported by the government.

To this end, it has introduced tax incentives to attract private universities, exempted educational and medical practical training services from VAT and allowed private institutes to determine their own tuition fees.

The government is also supporting new scholarships for international students and allowing them to work part-time up to 20 hours a week.

In August, during a speech at the University of Central Lancashire’s Cyprus campus, the secretary to the council of ministers, Theodosis Tsiolas, also emphasised the value the government is placing on developing the higher education industry.

“One of the most important priorities of the government is upgrading university education through an integrated policy strategy which focuses on offering quality opportunities for university education and lifelong learning in cutting edge sectors.

“This will make higher education in Cyprus known abroad, and the country as a regional centre of education, research and innovation,” he said.

In 2017, Cyprus was named the world’s safest place for young people by the World Health Organisation. This, combined with lower fees and English being widely spoken, has also helped to make it an attractive destination to prospective students.

“Cyprus offers affordable tuition fees and reasonable cost of living with high quality of student life,” Campanellas told The PIE News.

“The student support services of the universities, hospitable locals, the climates worldwide and the Mediterranean gastronomy make it an ideal destination for young people.

“The phenomenal increase in international students has given a boost to the local economy and generated income for a variety of businesses in university areas. This has been highly appreciated by the local population, who.., [are now] thinking [about how] to meet the needs and demands of this upcoming target market.”

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