“Study in Cyprus? Where’s that?” It may be a place nobody’s heard of, but that just means you can be the first to share stories of its beautiful beaches and long history with your eager-for-news friends and family. With Europe to the west, Asia to the east, and Africa to south, universities in Cyprus for international students help debunk modern day multiculturalism. The education system is second to none; getting a degree abroad in Cyprus will guarantee open doors in just about any field around the world.
Cyprus is an island nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, third in size and population only to Sicily and Sardinia. Although technically located in Asia, Cyprus has strong cultural and economic ties to Europe. All of this identity crisis comes with beautiful backdrops, delicious grub, and all shades of friendly faces. In 1974, Cyprus was officially divided into two separate states: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized by literally no one, except, as it turns out, Turkey), and the Republic of Cyprus (recognized by all international bodies). The boundary that separates them is known as the Green Line, and cuts the capital of both North and South Cyprus, Nicosia, in two.
Nicosia is the last divided capital city in Europe, but you wouldn’t immediately notice it while studying in Cyprus. With cobblestone streets and clothes hanging in the streets, it has all the quaint charm of a Europe stuck in time. Graffitied walls add a modern touch, as do the ultra-hip bars and clubs that peddle a penny alongside more timeless eateries offering Cypriot staples like souvla and halloumi. It’s a notoriously small city, but it has upwards of five universities, and the high student body adds to the colorful energy of the city.
In Northern Cyprus— that no-man’s land of international trade sanctions and travel embargoes— education is actually the leading sector of the economy. There are currently nine universities, with over 63,000 students from more than 110 different nations. Famagusta is easily the largest and most important city, and its maze of streets are lined with copy shops, travel agencies, cafés, shops, and bars. Eastern influences are stronger than below the Green Line, and studies in Middle Eastern fields aren’t a bad option.
Degree Programs in Cyprus
To study in Cyprus is to study in multiculturalism at its finest. At some point dominated by everyone from the Assyrians to Alexander the Great, Cyprus has fought to maintain its identity and position in the world, while allowing each civilization to leave its indelible mark. Modern educational institutions build their curriculums on the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality: qualities that remain universal through the changing of any hands. While this alone is a hallmark of their quality education, Cypriot universities also offer modern libraries, discipline, and world-class lecturers.
When considering universities in Cyprus for international students, opt to get a four-year undergraduate degree. Some of the most popular fields include business, management, and international relations. What better place to study this than the multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-religious melting pot that is Cyprus? Similarly, you can get a degree in European studies and learn both from important sites— the entire town of Paphos, on the west coast, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site— as well as your plethora of European friends sharing their own unique stories and viewpoints.
Most universities in Cyprus for international students also offer master's degrees, which can be completed in one to two years, and doctorate programs, which typically take three years to complete and include lectures and a dissertation. Leading topics include the same economic options as at undergraduate levels, but culture studies are also gaining popularity. No surprise here!
While the official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, English is widely spoken and is used for lectures by most professors — perfect for us wanting to get a degree abroad, but not necessarily in a foreign tongue.
Costs of Studying in Cyprus
Some may say that Cyprus peaked in the Copper and Bronze ages — it was certainly their moment to shine. Luckily, modern times are seeing a resurgence in their economy thanks to, you guessed it — education. In a time where carefully manufactured helmets aren’t worth the bronze they’re made of, this petrol- and factory-less country has turned elsewhere to make a lira. Nearly seven percent of the GDP is spent on education, which makes Cyprus one of the highest spenders on education in the whole of the EU. Study in Cyprus and experience a world-class European education on a budget.
Life itself is relatively cheap; if you’re renting on your own or with a friend, expect to chalk up around $300 monthly for an apartment, plus an additional $100 every two months for gas and electricity. Food (much like many other things) is cheaper on the Turkish side: a bottle of water costs half Turkish lira and one apple sells for mere pennies. Meat is expensive throughout the island, but local markets are overflowing with sun-ripened veggies to spruce up any meal.
Most universities in Cyprus offer scholarships, which typically run anywhere from four months to two years. Some include housing and meals, while others might just cover classes. In Northern Cyprus ,universities give scholarships of 50% to 3,000 of the 16,000 students. That may seem like a lot, but what students do pay does a great deal to support an economy that has suffered decades of sanctions.
Student Housing in Cyprus
While Aphrodite is rumored to have been born here, it may be a little harder to take up residence on the island for us mortals who aren’t granted access to Mt. Olympus.
Many universities in Cyprus offer accommodation in dorms or nearby apartments, and they’ll set international students up with both a place and a roommate as part of the cost. These are usually close to campus and offer a collegiate sense of community. If housing isn’t part of your package, you may need to find alternate accommodation. Foraying on your own into the cities may prove more of a challenge, but the perfect apartment is not nearly as elusive as the Muffon sheep.
Try to find a place near a bus stop, as public transportation is notoriously lacking, or splurge on a car or motorcycle which can open up your options. Houses, for example, are cheaper, but they’re typically set outside the city center.
Student Visas in Cyprus
Non-EU students need a student visa to live and study in Cyprus, which can be procured at any Cypriot consulate or embassy in your home country, or by the Migration Department in Cyprus. To qualify, you must be full-time (defined by 12 credit hours per semester) and attend all of your classes. Visas tend to be specific to one university, so if you change institution, you’ll need to get a new residence permit.
Benefits and Challenges
There are few places in the world today that can boast the antiquity that Cyprus has managed to preserve. Some of the oldest wells, the oldest wine label, and the remains of the oldest-known pet cat, buried with its master over 9500 years ago, are all here. What is unique about Cyprus is that it has managed to piece together fragments of its entire history to form the multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-religious culture it has today, and, with its low crime rate, still be one of the safest countries to live in.
There is one point of controversy worth noting when deciding where to get your degree in Cyprus, however. The internationally-recognized South claims that all universities operating in the North cannot be accepted as legitimate, degree-conferring organizations. Northern Cypriot officials claim that it is within their internationally-recognized rights to run their own universities; when establishing the Republic of Cyprus it was mutually agreed that education would be left to the communities.
While the debate remains heated within Cyprus, international universities recognize degrees from both the northern and the southern parts of the island, and students from either sector can go on to get their masters or Ph.D. at the best universities around the world. The only caveat is that universities in Northern Cyprus are blocked from participating in programs based on international agreements, like the Bologna Process or Erasmus Programs.
Getting a degree abroad in Cyprus is the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone interested in the meeting of worlds. Load up on a plate of Greek chicken or Arabic kebab, and start dancing the tsifteteli; your future is waiting.