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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Green light for Harvard-TEPAK deal ]

Green light for Harvard-TEPAK deal

Author: 
George Psyllides

LAWMAKERS yesterday gave a nod of approval for a cooperation agreement between Harvard University and Cyprus’ technical university TEPAK.

“We can say that a more serious base has been set with the involvement of TEPAK and the cooperation between TEPAK and Harvard will have very positive effects on know-how and academic education,” said Giorgos Georgiou, chairman of the House Watchdog Committee.

The initial agreement with the American university was signed in 2004 during the Tassos Papadopoulos administration but was re-negotiated by the current government in 2008 after it was deemed to be unfavourable.

Under the 2004 deal, the government would create and invest around $34 million into the Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health (CII) over a 10-year period, after which the institute was expected to become self-sufficient.

The government would also finance the construction of the premises, the cost of which was estimated to be in the range of an extra $21 million.

In return, the institute was to offer training and research and have direct links with regional policy-makers in the fields of environment and issues affecting public health. Scientists from Harvard would work alongside Cypriots, postgraduate and doctorate students and other professionals from around the world, researching the latest in advanced technologies in environment and public health.

In early 2008, the ministers of education and commerce informed the cabinet that the agreement was “unfavourably balanced” against the government.

They further noted that, given the size of the contract, the money was to all intents and purposes “gifted” to Harvard University and called for a revision of the contract.

In her report, the Auditor-general also noted that the appointment of the CII’s director was subject to scrutiny: “The selection and appointment of the director of the CII...occurred in a manner that deviates significantly from standard academic norms.”

The director appointed at the time, Harvard professor Philippos Democritou, was the cousin of former commerce minister George Lillikas, under whose watch the deal with Harvard was signed.

Lillikas denied any wrongdoing and yesterday he reiterated once more that the appointment had been demanded by the university.

Education Ministry permanent secretary Olympia Stylianou said the new deal was vastly improved, with the main difference being that the program was now under TEPAK while before it was a private company with no other links to the academic community.

She said the agreement was also reviewed because Harvard considered the framework offered by TEPAK to be better than the provisions of the first deal.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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