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11-02-2021 16:39

Address by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, Mr. Prodromos Prodromou, at the NetMAR Kick-Off Meeting

It is with great pleasure that I have accepted the invitation of the University of Cyprus and its Centre for Medieval Arts & Rituals to address the Kick-Off Meeting of the newly established international Network for Medieval Arts & Rituals (NetMAR).

As I have been informed, NetMAR is a project that grew out of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Cyprus, and it has secured funding of 900,000 euro from the European Union Horizon 2020 programme, as part of competitive process that included 485 proposals, only 70 of which were funded. As part of this project, the University of Cyprus will be collaborating with world-renowned European research centres, while researchers attached to NetMAR will become actively involved in cultural actions and also offer educational and outreach programmes to students, researchers, professionals in the tourism industry, and the general public. 

Initiatives such as NetMAR are welcome and commendable, especially so when research proposals by Cypriot Universities are selected among hundreds of research funding bids from overseas Universities, making Cyprus stand out in the European and international field of Higher Education. Our Universities are worthy ambassadors of our country abroad, and we are proud of their important achievements.

The University of Cyprus has managed, over its relatively short life, to become synonymous with excellence in the field of research. It has generated numerous scientific publications in international journals and has been participating in international conferences and forums. Further, it has attracted large and important funding grants, and is collaborating with numerous Universities, Research Centres, Institutes and organizations from around the world. I am sure that the University of Cyprus will continue to excel in the field of research and that it will continue to be successful in attracting research funding.

This government has set among its aims for Higher Education the development of research and innovation in Cypriot universities and has put in place a number of initiatives and policies to this end. Some examples of the actions we’ve taken are the following:

  • The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, and in consultation with all the different social stakeholders, has submitted to the House of Representations regulations for the modification of the existing legal framework of the University of Cyprus, intended to allow the University to establish or participate in companies (spin-offs and start-ups ) whose activities will serve the public interest and further promote the link between research and innovation.
  • We have supported the initiative of the University of Cyprus for formalizing the procedures and criteria for establishing Centers of Excellence at the University and we are working on finalizing all the relevant regulations, which we hope to submit soon to the House of Representatives for approval.
  • We support the proposals of the University of Cyprus regarding the establishment of new Research Units at the University through submitting to Parliament all relevant regulations. Despite its young age, the University of Cyprus has so far managed to have twelve Research Units approved by the House of Representatives, while others are currently awaiting approval.
  • The Council of Ministers has agreed to co-finance, using national funds, two research programmes of the University of Cyprus that have received funding of several millions from the European Union: the "KOIOS" Research Center; and the Centre of Excellence in Biobanking and Biomedical Research. State funding can go up to 15 million euro for each project and is released gradually and premised on the positive and successful implementation of these research programmes.
  • Additional state funding was provided to the University of Cyprus for its participation in the Alliance Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE), which consists of 10 young European Universities.

All of the above demonstrate how important research in Higher Education is for the government. We believe that supporting the research effort of Cypriot Universities is an investment that brings numerous benefits, both to Universities and society more broadly; it increases the competitiveness of our Universities at European and international level and allows them to secure important international funding, it improves Cyprus position in international University ranking tables, it increases the income of Universities and further allows them to continue growing, it provides employment for young researchers (and thus contributes to the reduction of unemployment), it provides strong incentives for talented researchers to stay and work in Cyprus, but most of all it increases the overall quality of our Universities, it promotes knowledge transfer between researchers, academics, and students, and many more.

However, the most important benefit of investing in research is its impact on society. A great example is the coronavirus pandemic. Our researchers have been at the forefront of managing this crisis in our country and we thank them once again for their contribution. The hope of all humankind has turned to researchers to find vaccines and cures that will end this devastating pandemic and the loss of millions of human lives worldwide.

Closing, I would like to once again express my warm congratulations to all those who worked for this Network success. I am sure that you will work hard for the successful implementation of the relevant project. I wish you every success.

IP