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International students protest work rules, Cyprus

Crowds of angry non-EU students have demonstrated in the Cypriot capital, Niscosia, over rules they say unfairly restrict their right to work outside college hours.

"Those who are caught working illegally are now asked to leave Cyprus instead of being taken to court”

The students, who gathered outside the ministries of labour and interior last Wednesday, say that the government is limiting the occupations they can choose from by refusing to approve their employment contracts. This is preventing them from gaining experience in their fields of study and making them struggle to meet their living costs.

“It is illegal for students to work without approved employment contracts and those who are caught working illegally are now asked to leave Cyprus instead of being taken to court,” read a statement posted on behalf of the protesters on the American College in Cyprus’s Facebook page.

While international students in Cyprus may work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, the country is allowed under EU law to set part-time work rules that reflect its labour market conditions.

Labour minister Sotiroula Charalambous, who has met with the students, told the Cyprus Mail that some contracts had not been authorised because employers were obliged to hire previous employees (such as seasonal staff who had been laid off) before non-EU students. “Because of the current labour market conditions we cannot enlarge the list of jobs students can be employed at,” he added.

However, the students claimed they were entitled to fair employment outside study time under European Union law. A student representative also told the Mail that there was a false public perception that international students were working to send money abroad rather than to cover their living expenses. “It’s very difficult for us to survive in this very expensive economic climate,” said another.

“…Can’t believe that students are still deprived of such a basic right, the whole point of professional study is to obtain experience while studying”

Cyprus’ spiralling fiscal deficit, which led to an unpopular EU-directed austerity plan introduced earlier this month, is the likely cause of the curbs on work rights. Yesterday thousands of Cyprus government workers held a strike against a proposed two-year salary freeze, and domestic university students protested at a decision to reduce student grants by 10% in September.

Overseas students, aware of the cost of their education and their importance to the economy (Cyprus launched a drive to increase international numbers last year), have said they are determined to have their voices heard too.

“Can’t believe that students are still deprived of such a basic right, the whole point of professional study is to obtain experience while studying,” Javinder Jassi commented on the American College’s Facebook page.

Chrisna Tamang wrote, “Cyprus is going to lose the international students very soon if they won’t realise we are the source of the economy.”

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18 Responses to International students protest work rules, Cyprus

  1. please publish my comment m so much in anger and fraustrated ….even i have to have european card for cleaning their toilet……..its a bloody shitter……come in my country and i will show u…u bastard cypriot n its law…….gamodo…… its like prison …no human rights……why no one is helping us to get our rights…… this the europe?nooone realises how hard life we have this days….its like we are in afghanistan……..neither we can complete our studies neither we can go back to our country…we have already spent so much money in hope that one day we’l get our rights……but in cyprus its impossible….people will die but it wont matter for them………please help to raise our voice against this discrimination……….we are not the reason for crisis……

  2. It is unfair. Everybody should be given equal opportunity we are all human beings created by God. I m also preparing for my masters programme but i m no more comfortable with the system over there

  3. if 20 hours job allowed for the overseas students the government should allow them.some family they nt able to send money for their children but they send there tht students has job let them work otherwise it will be a bad reputation for u.

  4. This is right things … so, what if we are not Cypriot or European. But we are also human same as. We have also same working ability. Is this difference of colour. So, this means they are big racist. If the Cyprus government give us visa or working permission of 20 hours a week that mean it’s a trap to give greed to people enter to your country. Thanks

  5. This is not good for student and if cyprus goverment never change their rule this is not good for cyprus.

  6. They convince you that it’s good to study here. You pay more than six thousand euros without any problem. Suddenly there’s problem when u go to look for a Job. They limit u to choices that u wouldn’t go for on a normal day. This is racism .
    Simply telling us indirectly that we can’t work. Stop making students come here if this country doesn’t have what it takes. They don’t have problem taking our money but when its time to give us back a little of our contribution to their stupid economy then boom! There’s a problem.

    • Hello Marian, Has there been any improvement, because I am planning to have my masters in European University of Cyprus but I can’t complete my programme if i don’t work to support myself whiles schooling. Kindly update me on the current situation please because i will be coming February next year.

  7. How much do I need to enter Cyprus to start my education in any of those chepest universities. Am a Liberian residing in Liberia

  8. Hi I can help you if you want stand with me. I need you come tougher with me.i am Europen citizen I do not need any visa for study or work. I am not afraid what they can do with me. I am visiting Cypurs every second month, soon I am coming back again. I will try to contact you Gaye’s if you need any kind of help send me mail if you like

    • I want to come to cyprus for my masters please n want to know If this problem have fixed. I also need more information about international student in cyprus am a Nigerian. Thanks

    • Hi Jagjit,

      I am Abhik Chakrabarti from Delhi, India. I am going to do some diploma course as Chef in a college in Cyprus. I would like to know whether after completion of my 1 year course, I will be allowed to work there.

    • Hello Jagjit, It is my pleasure to meet you on here . I will be going to Cyprus this month for my masters program @NEU hope to make new friends . It will be nice to meet you my email is (

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