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TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION report: “Get away from it all – go capless”

By David Matthews
As pressure on places rises, UCLan offers applicants a Cypriot alternative. David Matthews reports.

A British university is offering UK students left without undergraduate places this summer a way around the government’s cap on places – a degree at its new campus in Cyprus.

The University of Central Lancashire plans to offer the option to study on the Mediterranean island to students going through clearing after their A-level results are published in August.

Dave Phoenix, deputy vice-chancellor for strategic planning and performance management at UCLan, said the pressure on places meant there would be “a lot of very disappointed” people in September, so the Cyprus alternative could be appealing.

British students are not entitled to UK tuition fee and maintenance loans if they attend domestic universities’ overseas campuses. But as European Union citizens they would be eligible for means-tested grants of up to €3,192 (£2,565) a year from the Cypriot government if they join UCLan Cyprus. However, there would be no help with fees (€9,950 a year for undergraduates).

The university is also looking to attract students from Russia, the Middle East and Cyprus itself to create a “multinational staff and student body” at the €53 million campus, situated in the coastal city of Larnaka, Professor Phoenix said.

UCLan is expecting about half of the branch’s first cohort to be locals, he added.

Cyprus markets itself as a “safe, friendly” destination for international students “at an affordable cost”.

Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, the number of foreign students there more than quadrupled to over 10,000, according to the Cypriot Ministry of Education and Culture.

Piece of the action

The island has also attracted the attention of the University of East London, which announced last month that it would open a “stunning new campus” in Nicosia, the Cypriot capital, that would offer UEL degrees from October.

John Shaw, UEL’s pro vice-chancellor international, said the country had good air links to Dubai and to many cities in Russia.

Russian students welcome the island’s “fantastic climate”, and students from the former communist countries of Eastern Europe found obtaining visas easier for Cyprus than for the UK.

However, it has emerged that the UEL campus is in fact a refurbished part of Ledra College, a local education provider.

The UEL venture differs from the UCLan project in that the campus has not been registered as a Cypriot institution, so its degrees are only approved by UK authorities. UEL has said that it, rather than Ledra College, will employ all the staff on campus.

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