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Why Cyprus for Study Abroad?


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Cyprus 1977
Greece Cyprus
Image by Brian Harrington Spier

Why Cyprus for Study Abroad?

By Dr. Sandi Smith, Director of Institutional Relations, Global Learning Semesters, January 2009.

The number of U.S. students studying abroad seems to be increasing significantly on an annual basis.  Although there is not adequate research to understand why… the anecdotal evidence would suggest that this generation of “Millenial” students realize the primary need of understanding others that are different than themselves to achieve success in business, politics, and general global welfare.

The 2008 IIE Open Doors Report suggests that in 2006-2007, study abroad by U.S. college students increased by 8% from the previous year and an increase of close to 150% since 1996-1997 (source: http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/?p=131592).  The IIE Open Doors Report has been the primary source of data for international education enrollments in the U.S. for several decades.  However, it is not clear that the significant increase in study abroad participation data is not merely a result of better data collection and reporting efforts in the last decade.

The Open Doors Report 2008 also suggests that U.S. college students are participating in programs in much more diverse geographic locations, seeing reporting increases in study abroad destinations.  “The number of U.S. students studying in China, Argentina, South Africa, Ecuador and India each increased by more than 20 percent over the previous year.” (source: http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/?p=131592).

However, the 2008 Open Doors Report shows insignificant participation in Cyprus.  Why should a U.S. college student explore Cyprus as a relevant and meaningful destination for study abroad?

So, if participation in study abroad is increasing, and students are increasingly seeking out “non-traditional” locations, why do so few U.S. college students study abroad in Cyprus?   Unofficial reports would suggest that prior to 2005, fewer than five (5) U.S. college students studied abroad in Cyprus every year.

We can only speculate as to why Cyprus has not previously been a common study abroad location for U.S. students.  But some of the main speculations include: 

1.    few Americans know much about Cyprus

2.    because the first language in Cyprus is Greek, many American students and Study Abroad Advisors might incorrectly assume that unless students are fluent in Modern Greek language, they would not be able to study at a Cypriot institution of higher education

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3.    there are very few colleges and universities in Cyprus

4.    Cypriot institutions have not promoted themselves to the American study abroad market

5.    because Cyprus is a bi-communal society divided by a United Nations demilitarized zone, some people may think Cyprus is a dangerous location

6.    because Cyprus is so close to the “Middle East” some people may think that it is an Arab nation and/or may have security issues related to “Middle Eastern” countries

It does not require a sophisticated investigation to learn that most of these supposed obstacles to study abroad in Cyprus should not be obstacles at all.

I’d like to look at the potential for U.S. college students to study abroad in Cyprus and discuss the relevance of students and Study Abroad Advisors exploring Cyprus as a relevant and meaningful study abroad destination.

First of all, let’s look at those perceived obstacles to study abroad in Cyprus.

1.    Few Americans know much about Cyprus.

-      so what!?!?!?!?  Let’s learn!

-      most that do know about Cyprus, love it

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-      Cyprus is a modern, thriving EU (European Union) country and should be known by Americans

2.    Because the first language in Cyprus is Greek, many American students and Study Abroad Advisors might incorrectly assume that unless students are fluent in Modern Greek language, they would not be able to study at a Cypriot institution of higher education.

-      yes, the official language of Cyprus is Greek, but most of the population is multi-lingual and English is commonly spoken as a second language

-      the University of Nicosia uses English as the official language (expect in the School of Education) of instruction and administration

-      non-Greek speaking students can easily navigate the university, the community and travel throughout Cyprus in English only

3.    There are very few colleges and universities in Cyprus

-      until 2008, there was only one (1) university in Cyprus

-      in 2008, four private colleges where awarded university-level status by the Ministry of Education

-      The University of Nicosia was established over 25 years ago on the U.S. higher education structure and functions academically and administratively parallel to most U.S. universities.

4.    Cypriot institutions have not promoted themselves to the American study abroad market.

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-      until 2004 when the University of Nicosia (formerly Intercollege) developed Global Learning Semesters as an organization to serve as the international marketing and U.S. student support for Intercollege, there was very little promotion of Cypriot higher education to the U.S. college student market

-      Global Learning Semesters now supports hundreds of U.S. college students studying at the University of Nicosia annually.

5.    Because Cyprus is a bi-communal society divided by a United Nations demilitarized zone, some people may think Cyprus is a dangerous location.

-      Cyprus is a democratically stable nation, thriving member of the European Union, and has not experienced any violence related to the bi-communal status since 1974.

-      An ideal learning laboratory for students, the bi-communal status of Cyprus is great place for students to learn about international relations, active UN negotiations, and ethnic/national divisions in a stable, non-violent society.

6.    Because Cyprus is so close to the “Middle East” some people may think that it is an Arab nation and/or may have security issues related to “Middle Eastern” countries.

-      situated in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a close ally, neighbor and friend of Greece

-      Cyprus is considered a “Christian” nation with the majority of Cypriots observing Orthodox Christianity 

-      in geographic proximity, Cyprus is closer to Israel, Egypt and Turkey than it is to it’s Western European counterparts

-      politically, economically, and internationally… Cyprus is a member of the European Union and thus functions as a thriving European society

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-      culturally… Cyprus has a long and diverse history of living in the cross-roads of European, Middle Eastern, and North African civilizations, and thus benefits from a culturally diverse perspective and exposes the average U.S. student to a Mediterranean cross-roads not seen in much of the common destinations Americans gather

Next, let’s look at some of the important factors any student should consider when choosing a relevant study abroad program.

1.    What are the academic options available?

2.    Can I earn academic credit that will add to my degree plan?

3.    Do I meet the eligibility requirements of the program?

4.    Will the cultural experience be relevant to my academic, personal and career goals?

5.    Do the student support services meet my needs?

6.    Can I afford it?

Academic Options in Cyprus

About UNic:  The University of Nicosia is an independent, co-educational, equal opportunity tertiary education institution, combining the best elements in western education, quality standards and an international philosophy.

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Located in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, an island which lies at the cross-roads of three continents, the University has quickly become a global education centre. International in philosophy, the University hosts students from all over the world, in a multicultural learning environment, promoting friendship, cooperation and understanding.

The University pursues excellence in education through high teaching standards, in a continually improving academic environment. Besides classroom instruction, the University offers students opportunities to become involved in a whole range of activities including student clubs, sports, public lectures and seminars.

The University is actively involved in European and local research projects as a partner and as a coordinating institution. Additionally, the University of Nicosia received approval for an Erasmus University Charter and is an official participant in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The University of Nicosia is also actively involved in the community with campaigns for various causes, including environmental protection. In recognition of this work the institution received the prestigious “Global 500” award from the United Nations. Other examples of community service include campaigns for fighting world hunger and raising funds for worthy causes. In an ongoing project, professors help prison inmates acquire knowledge and skills in Computing, Art and Psychology.

Academic tradition encourages the majority of the world’s universities to adopt the name of the city which hosts them. Indeed, this occurs almost as a rule when the city in question happens to be the capital city.

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