Proposed measures would require tighter attendance records and place a cap on international enrolments for private providers. Growth in numbers show Cyprus is reaching success in its aims to be a magnet for international students, however providers think the new policies could dampen demand.
The new regulations, reported in Cypriot daily Politis, would require non-EU students to score at least 50% on their school-leaving English language test or obtain a Level 5 IELTS certificate to attend a higher education institution in Cyprus.
The number of non-EU students private universities are allowed to recruit will be limited to 10% of their total number of enrolments
Private universities – which teach around 90% of all non-EU students – will have to report attendance figures to the Education Ministry to demonstrate that students are attending at least 70% of their classes.
Students who fail to meet the 70% attendance mark required by their visa will be reported to the migration and Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD).
The Education Ministry will be responsible for verifying students’ academic documents, while the consulates of each student’s country in Cyprus will be responsible for verifying their travel documents.
Although the proposals aim to tackle what is thought to be an increasing number of bogus students entering the country on study visas they may not be welcomed by all providers.
Gaurav Dubey, Marketing Manager for Cyprus International Institute of Management (CIIM), said in 10 years he has never seen a single case of any CIIM students working illegally.
“Getting the documents is a tedious and expensive work for a student abroad,” he commented. “This red tape discourages any good students to even think about Cyprus.”
“It is good to filter [students] so that Cyprus gets a name as an education hub, but not limiting the number of students,” he added.
The government laid out plans to attract more international students to Cyprus in 2010. In 2012 it attracted more than 10,000 tertiary foreign students, around two-thirds of which were from outside the EU.
However, further policy tightening could place a cap on the number of non-EU students private universities are allowed to recruit at 10% of total enrolments – including any students who don’t complete.
Dubey commented that such a move “will not help Cyprus” and suggested it may hinder the government’s plans to make the island an education hub.
“It is good to filter [students] so that Cyprus gets a name as an education hub, but not limiting the number of students”
Human rights organisation Stop Trafficking has also called for stricter controls on the number of international students that educational institutions can recruit to allow for better monitoring of students’ credibility.
The organisation revealed that some unscrupulous agents and colleges were using techniques similar to those used in sex trafficking in their international recruitment, forcing students into illegal jobs to fund studies they could not afford.
The NGO warned that some recruiters were presenting Cyprus as a “working paradise”, enticing students with the promise of opportunities to work while studying.
“They promise immediate employment with high wages sufficient to cover their tuition fees and living costs and a surplus for sending to their family,” its report stated.