In response to the above guidelines approved by the Bologna Follow Up Group, Vienna, April 7, 2006, the case for Cyprus is analyzed as follows:


1.                  Legislation


Cyprus has signed and ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention through Law 24 (ΙΙΙ)/2001. The legislation of KYSATS (Cyprus Council for the Recognition of Degrees) fully adheres to the stipulations of the Convention.


KYSATS’ legislation underwent various amendments since the operation of the Council back in 1996. The most recent amendment was this year and aimed to make the operation of the Council more flexible so that decisions on every case can be reached within a period of three months.


The major amendments introduced in relation to the original legislation are as follows:


(a)    Consideration of joint degrees for potential recognition.

(b)   Consideration for potential recognition, under conditions, of combined degrees, of previous European systems prior to the Bologna reforms, both as first and second cycle degrees.

(c)    Using a similar prior case, to reach a decision without the obligation to seek the opinion of an Expert Committee for the relevant specialization. This amendment aims to reduce processing time.

(d)   Using exams (organized by a university) as an alternative means, to attending supplementary modules, for demonstrating adequacy of knowledge. This amendment aims to facilitate candidates in meeting the Council’s requirements regarding demonstration of knowledge in given disciplines, as timely as possible. It is noted that student placements at local universities for attending supplementary modules are often very limited.

(e)    Ability to recognise transfer credits based on relevant work experience or non-university level examinations.


In addition KYSATS has recently decided to demonstrate higher flexibility regarding the recognition of degree titles for given specializations against other compatible (but not identical) specializations, provided that the required knowledge enhancements do not exceed the equivalent of one academic year full time study.


Thus KYSATS’ legislation is under continuous review both for making the Council’s operation more time efficient and also for responding to new changes, such as joint degrees.


KYSATS’ legislation, other pertinent information, and links to all European NARICS and other sites, are publicized through the Council’s web site ( that was inaugurated about a year ago. Some of this information, though, is listed exclusively in Greek. Thus one action is to maintain this information in a widely spoken European language, such as English, as well.


Cyprus has signed a number of bilateral recognition agreements with other countries, both in the European area and outside. These agreements conform to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. However occasionally difficulties arise regarding correspondences between older titles awarded prior to the Bologna reforms and new titles under the streamlined education structures advocated by the Bologna Declaration. One area of particular difficulty concerns older combined titles of four years duration that are considered by the countries that used to offer them as second cycle (Masters) degrees. Given that in Cyprus first cycle degrees are four years in duration, it is difficult to recognise such older degrees as second level degrees. The same applies, but to a lesser extent, to combined titles of five years’ duration. In many such cases KYSATS has already awarded both first and second cycle recognition.


KYSATS’ legislation (see amendment b. mentioned above) gives the Council authority to examine such older combined titles and decide on a case by case basis, provided that there is a bilateral agreement or the institution that awarded the title is from a country member of the European Union. Thus recognition of combined titles of minimum duration of five years at the second cycle level is possible but not automatic. Some parties conceive this to be in conflict with relevant clauses in given bilateral agreements. In more recent agreements the relevant clauses are unambiguously defined so there are no misunderstandings. The same clarifications should be made with respect to all bilateral agreements. However, it is stressed that these difficulties arise with respect to older, pre-Bologna titles and not for new post-Bologna titles.


Finally KYSATS has recently signed a bilateral agreement with Greece’s corresponding competent authority (DOATAP) regarding the recognition of engineering titles of five year duration.


2.                  Recognition practice


KYSATS applies the Recommendation on criteria and procedures of the assessment of foreign qualifications and periods of study. However it is emphasised that the interpretation of older titles, within the national context of Cyprus, and hence their recognition, is not necessarily a straightforward task. After all this was a major impetus behind the Bologna reforms.


In addition, there are serious difficulties in connection with transnational degrees.


KYSATS aims to process an application within a period of three months. Towards this aim it has proposed and strongly supported relevant changes in its legislation so that its operation is more flexible (see above). However, given the caution that KYSATS justifiably applies at present with respect to transnational titles through distance learning, the three month period is often not possible to be adhered to, primarily due to the often encountered inability of foreign institutions to respond promptly to relevant requests for information.


Moreover, it is important to clarify that KYSATS applies two forms of recognition: (a) equivalence (“isotimia”), and (b) correspondence (“antistichia”). Equivalence is the standard form of recognition and applies to all levels of recognition. Applications for equivalence are promptly processed. 


Correspondence is a more demanding form of recognition. It applies just to first cycle degrees. All conditions for equivalence apply and, in addition, the content of the applicant’s programme of study should be adequately comparable to the so-called prototype programme for the relevant specialization. Prototype programmes are primarily drawn from national programmes that take into consideration national standards for relevant professions (education, medicine, engineering, etc).  Obviously, examining correspondence may often take longer than equivalence.


As already mentioned there are no legal obstacles regarding the recognition of joint degrees, although KYSATS has no experience so far, since no such titles have been submitted for recognition. Likewise, although in theory there are no legal obstacles concerning double and multiple degrees, it is important that such degrees are conceived, for any purpose, as components of a single qualification and not as separate, distinct qualifications. KYSATS has no experience of double and multiple degrees and thus what control measures should be taken in this respect. This is certainly a matter for future action. At the European level the form of a Diploma Supplement (DS) for double and multiple degrees should be specified. Regarding joint degrees it is assumed that there will be a single DS but with multiple entries corresponding to the periods of study in the different institutions.


No measures have been taken so far regarding the notification of interested parties about the compliance of external bodies with the Lisbon Recognition Convention. Subject to the availability of necessary resources, this would be a future action.


Regarding transparency tools for recognition, both the ECTS and the DS have been implemented by the University of Cyprus. The other state universities (Open University of Cyprus, Cyprus University of Technology) that have just commenced their operation, also plan to implement the ECTS and DS.  It is noted that Cyprus does not have at present national legislation regulating tertiary education in a collective fashion. Instead there are (a) separate legislations for each state university giving it full autonomy, (b) legislation governing the operation of tertiary, non-university level, private schools (a recent amendment to this legislation enforces the implementation of the ECTS and DS) and (c) legislation governing the establishment and operation of private universities (no such institutions operate at present).


Concerning borderless/ transnational education, the existing legislation prevents the operation in Cyprus of satellite institutions (campuses) of foreign establishments. However, there is discussion at present concerning the establishment of a Cyprus QA and Accreditation Board. This body is likely to be responsible for the assessment of borderless/ transnational education. Until this agency is in operation, KYSATS is obliged to do programme evaluation of some sort of distance learning programmes (offered by conventional type institutions) on the basis of which it decides whether the given titles are potentially recognizable or not. This process, although necessary at present in order to safeguard minimum quality standards, it is also very time-consuming. Institutions offering distance learning programmes often do not facilitate KYSTAS with the necessary information in a timely fashion (sometimes they do not respond at all) and this causes delays and other difficulties.


3.                  Information provision  


As already mentioned KYSATS maintains its own web site that is linked to the ENIC-NARIC web site. The Ministry of Education and Culture also maintains a web site giving useful information about the national education system. Improvements of course will always be made so that the information is comprehensive, up to date and in a widely spoken European language as well.


Higher education institutions provide applicants with information packages and in addition they maintain their own web sites.



4.                  Structures


KYSATS is also the national information centre, for Cyprus. The role of KYSATS as a national information centre is advisory.


According to KYSATS’ legislation, the Ministry of Education and Culture provides the Council with the required staff and infrastructure for its operation.


KYSATS collaborates and exchanges information with SEKAP (Council for Educational Evaluation and Accreditation), the competent national authority regarding the quality assurance of programmes offered by tertiary, non-university level, private schools.


If SEKAP accredits a programme, KYSATS automatically recognizes the particular qualification (regarding equivalence but not necessarily correspondence, although this is a subject currently under discussion).


KYSATS is a member of the ENIC/NARIC Network and a member of the recently established MERIC Network, while SEKAP is a member of ENQA. These associations are very beneficial.


KYSATS also exchanges information with Greece’s competent authority, DOATAP, and directly collaborates on certain matters (see above).