Access to education for beneficiaries


Country Report: Access to education for beneficiaries Last updated: 09/05/24


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BIPs access the general education system and further training or re-training under the same conditions applying to nationals.[1] Children are granted full access to all levels of the education system.

The right of enrolled students to attend secondary education is not affected even when they reach the age of 18.[2] However, considering that the last three years of secondary education are non-obligatory, almost all new students above 18 years of age wishing to enrol for the first time in secondary education are denied access to free public schools by the Ministry of Education. Cyprus Refugee Council’s interventions for specific cases have resulted in enrolment, but the overall situation remains.

The age of students and their previous academic level is taken into consideration when deciding the grade where they will be registered. Classes at public schools are taught in Greek. Should they wish to attend a private school (usually to attend courses in English), it is possible but at their own cost.

In primary education, additional hours of Greek language learning are arranged at schools where the number of non-Greek speaking children is deemed high.

Linguistic and cultural barriers are still significant obstacles for young students, especially those entering secondary education. In order to deal with the language barrier in Gymnasium (middle-school) and Lyceums (high-school), the Ministry of Education has developed transitional classes (i.e., classes of 14 hours of Greek per week as well as selected other subjects), and short classes (i.e., classes where 5 hours of Greek per week are offered) in selected schools.[3] In 2022-2023 the Minister of Education announced a series of measures in order to increase the interaction of schools with families of children whose mother language is not Greek, monitoring more closely the learning progress, and outcomes.[4]

Students in Gymnasium and Lyceum are expected to succeed in the final exams to proceed to the next grade. Students the age of 15 and above may also attend evening Greek classes offered by the Ministry of Education in the community through life-learning schemes (Adult Education Centres and State Institutes of Further Education) or other arrangements (EU-funded or volunteer based).

The special needs of students are usually evaluated and taken into consideration by the Ministry of Education upon registration into schools, and sometimes through the intervention of NGOs. Depending on the nature and the seriousness of the disability, different arrangements are offered. The available schemes by the Ministry of Education for students with special needs are: placement in a regular class and provision of additional aid; placement in a special unit which operates within the regular school; placement in a special school (for more severe cases); and placement in alternatives to school settings.

Assessing the needs of children in an adequate manner is time-consuming. In addition, there is often the need to receive important treatments (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy) outside of the school context (in public hospital or privately). There are often delays and/or financial constraints in accessing these services.[5]

Children entering UASC shelters in the middle of a school year may not be placed in school, and the same will apply to children who are close to 18. Instead, they may be referred to evening classes which include Greek, English or French language, mathematics, and computer studies at the State Institutes of Further Education. Those Institutes operate under the Ministry of Education, mainly as lifelong learning institutions.

Beneficiaries completing public secondary education have the right to participate in the nationwide entry exams in order to secure placement in State universities, under the same conditions applying to nationals. Those who are able to secure a position in the State universities study free of charge. A very limited number of BIPs is admitted annually under special criteria applied for non-EU students by University of Cyprus. A limited number of scholarships is also offered from time to time by private universities.

An important limitation is that BIPs are not eligible for the student sponsorship scheme provided by the State to nationals and EU citizens who secure placement in an accredited tertiary education institution in Cyprus and abroad. This is particularly relevant to BIPs who, due to language barriers or an inability to secure a position in state universities, study in private universities or colleges in Cyprus and are subjected to the higher fees that apply for non-EU students.




[1] Article 21(1)(b)(i) and (iB) Refugee Law.

[2] Article 9H(2) Refugee Law.

[3] Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, List of schools that provide Greek lessons as a second language, 20 June 2023, available at:

[4] Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Statement by the Minister of Education, Sports and Youth on the strengthening of the procedures for the reception and smooth integration of students with an immigrant background and the knowledge of Greek, 21 July 2022, available in Greek at:

[5] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation