EMPLOYERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF CYPRIOT NON-STATE UNIVERSITIES
University of Nicosia (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Higher education (hereinafter HE) is vital for society and economic development (UNESCO 1998; HEFCE 2003; DIUS 2008; Studential 2008). Being an issue of such importance, it is no surprise that countries invest large amounts of their public expenditure on promoting HE. In 2003, Cyprus had the third highest investment (as a % of GDP) on education (7.36%) compared to other European countries (EC 2008).
In 2002, Cyprus had the third highest percentage (36%) of people between the ages of 30-34 with tertiary education qualifications, among twenty nine other European countries (EC 2005). However, out of the high school graduates who enrolled in higher education institutions (hereinafter HEI) in 2005/06, 38% registered in a HEI in Cyprus and 62% registered in a HEI abroad (CYSTAT 2007). This suggests that the vast majority of students, who pursue HE, do so abroad and shun local HEIs in Cyprus.
In the newly reclassified non-state universities (hereinafter universities) in Cyprus there seems to appear a sort of domino effect. With more students pursuing HE abroad, fewer students choose universities in Cyprus. With low numbers of local students, the universities must find ways to fill classes. By making entry requirements relatively easy, universities in Cyprus are seen as the ‘easy’ route into HE and thus students who do not manage to gain acceptance in HEIs abroad, consider this option. Accepting students in all programs, however, who have relatively low academic ability means that the overall image of the university is damaged – considered a ‘second class’ university compared to universities abroad. This perceived image may also be held by the industry and hence may tend to prefer graduates from HEIs abroad because they perceive them to be of a higher calibre. With the existence of this possible preferential treatment towards graduates of HEIs abroad, high school students who are in the process of deciding on a particular HEI may tend to choose those abroad hoping to be at the receiving end of this preferential treatment once they graduate.
The purpose of this research was to identify the perception held by employers of graduates of universities in Cyprus. A quantitative study was carried out with employers from a number of different industries in an attempt to identify their overall perceptions of these graduates. The methodological approach used for this study took into consideration the specific objectives of the study.
The ‘customers’ of HEIs are not only students but also employers, among others. The results of this study aim to identify whether this ‘second class’ perception does indeed exist among employers, and if it does exist offer recommendations to university marketing practitioners in their communication efforts to improve their perceived image. Once universities in Cyprus gain the respect of employers in Cyprus, and they start to offer equal opportunities to Cyprus universities’ graduates and graduates from HEIs abroad, then this may encourage students to remain in their own country for their HE.
Keywords: student choice, higher education, employer perception.