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EC Takes Action on Degree Restrictions in Cyprus

The European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Cyprus concerning rules on the establishment and operation of universities, which prompted the ministry of education to propose new legislation to parliament.

Under the current law private institutions of tertiary education in Cyprus are prohibited to "allow, by any means, to foreign educational institutions the possibility to award their own degrees in the Republic".

"The ministry is in the process of sending a law to parliament to vote and become legislation, all English universities will have the ability to offer degrees in Cyprus," said directory of the Cyprus Council for Recognition of Higher Educational Qualifications (KYSATS) Marios Antoniades.

Under the proposed legislation, the ministry and KYSATS would have the authority to approve private institutions offering foreign degrees in Cyprus.

"If the degree is fully comparable to our degrees, and if the staff is comparable with the mother institution, then we are going to recognise the degree," said Antoniades.

According to the director of higher education and tertiary education in the ministry of education Efstathios Michail, the Modification of Law for Schools of Higher Education is currently being discussed in parliament.

"The modification was submitted in November and will go for final discussion in January to be sent to a plenary session for approval," said Michail, adding that the ministry has to inform the European Commission of the new law by January 21st.

The law would allow any university in the EU to offer franchise degrees in Cyprus provided they follow procedures for approval.

The EC considers the current law a restriction on the freedom to provide services and a restriction on the freedom of establishment which cannot be justified, it said in a statement.

Reasoned opinions are the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

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