At present, 3 public and 5 private universities operate in Cyprus.
Public universities are: The University of Cyprus (admitted its first students in 1992), The Cyprus University of Technology (admitted its first students in 2007), and The Open University of Cyprus.
- European University (est. in 1961) evolved out of Cyprus College, and received university status in 2007;
- Frederick University (est. in 1961) evolved out of Frederick Institute of Technology, and received university status in 2007;
- University of Nicosia University (est. in 1980) evolved out of Intercollege, and received university status in 2007;
- Neapolis University, in 2015 it took the final license of operation;
- University of Central Lancashire, established its Cyprus campus in 2012.
Cyprus universities are relatively new and therefore inexperienced in the correct way to promote the collaboration between industry and academia. In order to accelerate the effort to bring academics and businesses closer together the project “Industry Liaison Offices” with funding of €3.1 m EU Structural Funds was run during 2009 – 2014 consistent with the Europe 2020 strategy “Innovation Union”. Some of the aims of the project related to WEXHE were the following:
- Collaboration of Private and Public Sector within a mutual objectives scheme
- Development and Promotion of Innovation Culture
- Maximizing opportunities and employment potential of students/graduates through a students’ placement framework
Project results were presented in July 2015 and among the conclusions were the following:
- Academia: There was no real incentive for academics to collaborate, research was mainly theoretical, lack of regulations regarding IP rights, bureaucracy involved for collaborating with their own established contacts
- Business: There was no visible gain from the collaboration with the universities and due to the economic crisis at the time this was not a priority
- Students: No real incentive to participate in Internships / placements since most courses don’t require this to graduate, minimal number of students willing to go for unpaid placement, and minimal number of Businesses were willing to spend time and money due to the economic crisis.
This experience shows that there is an immediate need for a better design of the process followed for these placements/internships, a change in the state of mind of both businesses/academia and students and a compulsory incorporation of internships in the programs of study. This will be achieved by showcasing some of the placements that have been successful and shaping a viable procedure that promotes this collaboration, both things that our current project aims to achieve.