Every child has the right to receive an education in Cyprus, and it does not depend on who their parents are or on what basis they live on the island. Elementary and secondary school in all public institutions is accessible to absolutely everyone.
The education system consists of three stages:
- Primary (kindergartens and elementary schools);
- Secondary (gymnasiums, lyceums, colleges);
- higher (universities).
You must send your child to kindergarten for elementary preschool education at four years and eight months. Compulsory schooling is from entry to kindergarten until age 15 when the child graduates from the gymnasium. Further instruction is extended by personal choice.
All public schools and kindergartens in Cyprus teach exclusively in Greek. But in private kindergartens, teachers and tutors communicate and teach children in English or any other language. Nevertheless, in every educational institution, there must be a minimum of Greek lessons, as Cyprus state programs require. Universities teach classes in Greek and English.
Kindergarten in Cyprus
Preschoolers in Cyprus are children who go to nursery and kindergarten.
Nurseries are always private and accept children from birth to 3 years old. It is a popular practice to give a child to a nursery because maternity leave for young mothers lasts no more than 3-4 months according to the law. A woman has to go to work, and it is not always possible to leave the baby with grandparents.
At the same time, public kindergartens accept kids from age 3, but private kindergartens can take kids from age 2.
In the last year before school, between the ages of 4 years eight months and five years eight months, the child is required to attend kindergarten for the preschool program.
There are three types of kindergartens in Cyprus:
- Public kindergartens — free of charge for the obligatory preparatory program at the age of 4,8 years old and a fee for earlier admission (about 45 € monthly), teaching only in Greek, the child is enrolled only at the place of residence, groups of about 20-25 people, short working hours — until 13:00;
- Community gardens — organized by the Municipality or other public organizations, attended by children of parents from the community, taught in Greek, partially subsidized by the state (utility costs and staff salaries). The parents pay the rest of the expenses (the monthly amount usually does not exceed 150 €-170 per month). Working hours are from 8 to 15. Children from 3 years old are accepted; parents pay all other costs;
- Private gardens — take children from 0 to 5 years, small groups of 6-10 people, working day until 18:00, there are extended day groups until 22:00 and night groups until 8:00, the language of instruction — Greek, English, Russian, etc., the price is relatively high (from 200 € per month for a short day until 13:00 without lunch) and all the needs of the child paid by parents, but also the services provided by much more, there are many developmental programs and courses, you can choose any location, the staff usually includes a psychologist and speech therapist.
Documents that are required to enroll a child in kindergarten in Cyprus:
- A birth certificate issued by an authorized body and translated into Greek or English;
- Utility bills that show the child’s residential address;
- A rental agreement, if you are renting;
- A copy of the vaccination card.
Schools in Cyprus
School education in Cyprus is also available in public and private educational institutions. The compulsory program lasts from admission at the age of 5 years and eight months until the child reaches the age of 15, when the teenager graduates from grammar school. Subsequent high school education from 15 to 18, which implies preparation for university entrance, is voluntary and selective.
The educational program consists of 2 phases:
- Primary School — lasts from age 5,8 and up to age 12 (6 years), teaching grades 1 through 6);
- Secondary School — lasts from 12 to 18 years (6 years), grades 7 to 12).
Secondary school, in turn, is also divided into two cycles — A and B:
- Cycle A — Gymnasium, junior high school from grades 7 to 9 and 12 to 15, a compulsory stage;
- Cycle B — lyceum or vocational training (college), upper secondary school from grades 10 to 12 and from 16 to 18, selective stage, preparation for higher education.
Even though cycle B is selective, study at this level is mandatory if the child will enter a higher education institution — to enroll in the university, you must provide a certificate of completion of school education.
What is the difference between public and private schools in Cyprus?
Public schools are free for everyone. The teaching is in full compliance with the state curriculum and is exclusively in Greek, but if your child does not speak Greek, free language courses will be provided after school to help them integrate more quickly.
The school provides its students with laptops, textbooks, art supplies, and atlases. You only have to buy school uniforms, stationery, and a token fee for school security.
Classes start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 1:05 p.m. Lessons last 45 minutes, and there are 10-15 minute breaks between tasks. Some schools can send your child to an after-school program with an extra class until 4:00 p.m. Also, a school place is only available at your residence and is only subject to change if there is no place.
Private schools allow you to choose any language of instruction (English, Russian, Armenian, and so on), any location regardless of residence, a more extended school day, and many additional classes.
There are three types of private schools:
- Fully compliant with the Cypriot state curriculum;
- Mixed type, partially compliant with the state curriculum and somewhat offering a hybrid approach;
- Alternative schools that do not correspond to the state curriculum (e.g., Russian and British schools).
Classes are usually small, and the child gets much attention with a personalized approach. There are many additional circles to develop creativity and deepen science.
What documents do I need to enroll in school in Cyprus?
For admission to a Greek school, you need to contact the Department of Education in your city (Υπουργείο παιδείας) and submit the following documents:
- A copy of the child’s passport;
- A copy of the child’s mother’s passport;
- A copy of the rental agreement (even if it is not in your name);
- A form to fill out, which is given on-site, depending on the child’s age (below the post, I post a photo of the state for elementary school and preschool children).
You can find the addresses of the education departments in the cities of Cyprus here.
Peculiarities of schooling in Cyprus
The school year in Cyprus begins in the second week of September, the second Monday of the month. The school year ends at the end of June, the Wednesday before the last Friday in June.
Homework is given only in basic subjects (such as math and language) and is limited to no more than 40 minutes.
How can Ukrainian children continue to study in a Ukrainian school in Cyprus?
Due to the migration of Ukrainians to Cyprus and providing them with temporary protection, the government has developed several measures to provide children with access to education. Suppose you want your child to receive a Ukrainian education while living in Cyprus. In that case, you must still apply to the Cypriot public school in the place of residence after your arrival on the island, register your child there and write a statement that he will continue his education in a Ukrainian school. Every semester you must submit a certificate of attendance at the Ukrainian online school to the Cypriot school. You can learn more about this and download the application form on a particular page of the Ministry of Education of Cyprus.
Higher Education and Universities in Cyprus
Both public and private universities provide higher education in Cyprus. However, only about 30% of local applicants enter Cypriot universities. The rest prefer to study abroad. This is due to the small range of specialties available for study on the island. However, higher education in Cyprus is of high quality, meets European standards, and is cheaper than in other European countries, so international students come to study on the island.
Studying here is more loyal and flexible. The main thing is to accumulate the required number of hours and credits. There are three semesters: fall-winter, winter-spring (mandatory), and optional summer. Hours and recognition that a student has not accumulated during the first two semesters can be added during the third summer semester.
Degrees at Cypriot universities:
- Four years — bachelor’s degree;
- Plus two more years — master’s degree (you have to defend your diploma);
- Plus three more years for a doctorate.
What documents do I need to apply for university in Cyprus?
It is much easier for foreigners to enter a local university than native Cypriots. The admission procedure is as simple as possible. There is no need to take entrance exams for university admission. Specialized competitions are held only for medical and creative specialties. For all other fields of study, it is sufficient to submit a high school diploma and an English language certificate to the university. Students who speak Greek or Turkish need a certificate in the same languages. English is not required. The courses are offered in English and Greek.
The first thing an applicant needs to submit to the university is a certificate of proficiency in English, namely:
- IELTS certificate — from 5.5 points;
- TOEFL certificate — from 500 points.
The rest of the documents you need to submit to the admissions committee of a Cypriot university for admission:
- A copy of your passport;
- University application form (most often, it can be filled out online on the university website);
- Certificate of proficiency in English, which we talked about above;
- School (lyceum, gymnasium, college, technical school) graduation certificate with a notarized translation (including the form with grades);
- Evidence of financial means for living in Cyprus (personal or parents' funds), which must be notarized and translated into English or Greek.
The procedure for entering a higher education institution on the island:
- The applicant fills out the application form on the university’s website;
- Together with the application form, the attached copies of all the above documents are sent;
- The application is submitted before the beginning of the semester — till September 1 or till December 1;
- It is possible to start the study program from any semester;
- After applying, the Admissions Committee reviews the application and decides on admission;
- Usually, the conclusion of the admissions committee is favorable for international students;
- The applicant will receive a letter with the committee’s decision, an invitation to study, and further recommendations;
- In the case of admission to a complicated (medicine) or creative specialty (designer, graphic design), it will be necessary to take a separate entrance exam. In all other cases, there will be no exams.
How do I get a student visa in Cyprus?
International students can study and reside in Cyprus on a student visa, which also gives them the opportunity after graduation to stay on the island for another year to look for work.
After an applicant has enrolled and paid for the first semester of study, they must apply for a student visa at the Embassy of Cyprus.
What documents do you need to provide for a student visa:
- Download the application on the website of the embassy in Cyprus, fill it out, and send it;
- A copy of your passport;
- 4 to 6 passport photos;
- School or college/university diploma translated and notarized;
- English certificates IELTS/TOEFL or G.C.E./G.C.S.E;
- Health insurance;
- Original certificate of medical examination according to the Cypriot Immigration Service protocol with the doctor’s opinion and the stamp of a specialist from the Republic of Cyprus;
- Receipt of payment of fees (about 138 €);
- Invitation letter from the University;
- Receipt of the first-semester tuition fee;
- A document confirming that the student has accommodation: a rental agreement or a certificate from the student hostel;
- A certificate of no criminal record;
- A bank statement as proof that the student has funds for living expenses (about 8000 euros for the academic year), if the parents are sponsored, documents confirming kinship are required.
The student visa is issued for one year. It must be renewed annually.
How much does it cost to study at a university in Cyprus?
Education for international students is paid for both in private and public universities. The cost of education in Cyprus is about 6000 €-10 000, which is much cheaper than in other European universities, where the price starts from 15 000 €-20 000 per year. In addition, for excellent foreign pupils, there is a system of discounts — at passing the examinations for «excellent», the price can be reduced by 50-75%. There is also a system of discounts for low-income students.
Please note! Only persons who have reached the age of 18 can enter university. If the applicant is 17, this year is devoted to pre-university training, after which it is even easier to enter.
Young people who have received a diploma from a Cypriot university, a European diploma, can easily find work in any EU company. However, few people stay on the island, as the local labor market has the little capacity and cannot provide jobs for all graduating students.
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