Although not ranking anywhere near the world's elite universities, three on Cyprus made the list of the world's top 1,000 in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2021.
The London-based group put two United Kingdom schools in the top three, Oxford first and Cambridge third, with California Institute of Technology second, Stanford fourth, MIT fifth, and followed by Princeton, Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago and Imperial College of London to finish out the top 10.
The Cyprus University of Technology came in at 307th while the University of Cyprus and the University of Nicosia (UNIC) – making its first appearance on the list – were in the ranking of between 501-600th.
The Nicosia school garnered attention in 2013 when it became the first university in the world to offer a masters in digital currency. It was also the first to allow fees to be paid by Bitcoin.
John Mavris, Communications Manager at UNIC, told University World News that, “We have been driving educational innovation in Cyprus and the wider region for some time, and it’s gratifying to see these efforts recognized.”
Cyprus’s education sector accounts for approximately 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), ranking with other key industries such as shipping, the report also said.
In the past academic year, there was a 5.6% increase in enrolled students in universities, half of whom are from overseas, and the government is trying to recruit more although the COVID-19 pandemic is limiting travel.
Education Minister, Prodromos Prodromou, recently announcing plans for a bill introducing non-Greek language program of study in state universities. He said there were about 30,000 foreign students in the country, up from 8,000 in 2012.
Cyprus aims “to gradually become an international regional center for university-level development,” he told the site.
Mavris said: “There is definite interest to study in Cyprus by overseas students, which can be further tapped into and harnessed by universities, decision-makers and stakeholders in promoting Cyprus as a global, university-level study destination.”
UNIC is believed to have the most international degree-seeking students of any university on the island, “by a wide margin” – according to the THE rankings 51% of its students are international students, compared with 11% each for the Cyprus University of Technology and the University of Cyprus..
The majority of UNIC’s students come from Europe and North America, representing a significant shift in the university’s student population in the past decade and showing its rapid growth.
“In aggregate, over the last 10 years, the UNIC student base has evolved from over 90% Cypriot to less than 35% Cypriot, as several of the university’s targeted international initiatives have flourished,” said Mavris.
He said the top 10 countries of origin for students are Greece, Cyprus, the US, the UK, Israel, Lebanon, Canada, Australia, Nigeria and Russia.
George Campanellas, Director General of Invest Cyprus, one of the government departments tasked with promoting Cyprus as an educational hub, said the recognition from the rankings was “extremely welcome”.
“Cyprus continues to attract significant numbers of students from overseas, including the UK, US, China and India, reflecting our continued progress to establish the island as a regional hub for education and research,” Campanellas said.
“In recent years, a number of tech companies have expanded or re-located to Cyprus, and the work being done by the University of Nicosia to teach and inspire a new generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs is driving Cyprus’s rapidly-growing tech ecosystem,” he added.