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University of Nicosia in Cyprus to be the First University in the World to Accept Bitcoin

17/01/2014 - by University of Nicosia Cyprus
The University of Nicosia (“UNic”), the largest private university in
Cyprus and one of the largest English language universities in the
Euro-Mediterranean region, announced today that it is now accepting
Bitcoin for payment of tuition and other fees, making it the first
accredited university in the world to accept the increasingly popular
digital currency.  

Additionally, UNic is also launching in
Spring 2014 the first Master of Science Degree in Digital Currency,
which is designed to help financial services and business professionals,
entrepreneurs, government officials and public administrators better
understand the technical underpinnings of digital currency, how it will
likely interact with existing monetary and financial systems, and what
opportunities exist for innovation in digital currency systems.

“We
are acutely aware that digital currency is an inevitable technical
development that will lead to significant innovation in online commerce,
financial systems, international payments and remittances and global
economic development.  Digital currency will create more efficient
services and will serve as a mechanism for spreading financial services
to under-banked regions of the world,”
said Dr. Christos Vlachos, member of the Council of the University of Nicosia, and the University’s Chief Financial Officer. “Our
world class business, accounting and computer science departments have
partnered to create an interdisciplinary major to prepare people for
these revolutionary changes. In this light, we consider it appropriate
that we implement digital currency as a method of payment across all our
institutions in all cities and countries of our operations.”


The
new Master’s program will be offered both online and on-campus to
students worldwide starting in Spring 2014. The language of instruction
will be English. Additionally, UNic will make the first class in the
degree pathway, Introduction to Digital Currency, available for free as
an open enrollment, MOOC-like course, to anyone interested in learning
more about the fundamental principles of digital currency.

“While digital currency is a relatively new concept, currency is one of the oldest human inventions,” said Dr. Andreas Polemitis, Senior Vice Rector at the University of Nicosia. “What
we aim to explore in this program is the likely development pathway of
digital currency and give our students insights that they can bring to
bear in their professional careers.”


Additionally, UNic is
proposing to the Cyprus Government and the relevant stakeholders the
initiation of a comprehensive framework for developing Cyprus into a hub
for Bitcoin trading, processing and banking.   

Bitcoin Payments:  Bitcoin will be accepted throughout the whole University of Nicosia system, including affiliated institutions such as:

• St. George’s University of London/UNic Medical School, a partnership between St. George’s University of London and UNic

• Globaltraining, a professional training division with campuses in Cyprus, Greece and Romania

• Erasmus and Global Semesters exchange and study abroad programs

• UNic Online Degree Divisions, offering online programs to students worldwide.

To
learn more about the UNic digital currency initiatives, to request more
information about enrollment in the MSc. Program or to register for
future announcements please visit: www.unic.ac.cy/digitalcurrency.  

About the University of Nicosia

The
University of Nicosia is the largest private university in Cyprus and
one of the largest accredited English language universities in the
Euro-Mediterranean region. It offers more than 60 degree programs from
the bachelor’s to doctoral levels, and is a particular leader in the
fields of accounting, business, computer science, law, architecture,
engineering, psychology, medicine and international relations. For more
than 20 years, the University has published its own academic journal,
the Cyprus Review, which is the only English language international
academic journal in Cyprus.  

Currently more than 8,500 students
from all over the world attend a program at the University of Nicosia
or affiliated institutions (such as St. George’s University of London/UNic Medical School, a partnership between St. George’s University of London and UNic; Intercollege, vocational colleges in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca; Globaltraining, professional training division with campuses in Cyprus, Greece and Romania; Erasmus and Global Semesters exchange and study abroad programs, and UNic Online, offering online programs to students worldwide).

The
language of instruction for most University of Nicosia programs is
English.   To learn more about the University, please visit: www.unic.ac.cy.
Read more
  • 17/01/2014 - by Constantinos Adamides

    Is it possible for all EU member (and candidate) states to have a common European security culture? No, is the obvious answer. At least this was the conclusion from the Cambridge University - European Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) conference that took place in Cambridge some time ago. Representatives from each EU Member State (plus Egypt and Turkey) presented their country’s security culture, the underlying reasons behind it, and discussed whether securitization  has a particular impact on the development of that culture. 

    The reason behind the non-existence of a common European security policy is the fact that EU members and candidates are far from having a homogeneous perception of what constitutes a threat to their countries. Unsurprisingly, the diverse threat perceptions are a major, if not insurmountable, obstacle towards the development such a common culture. The focus of this article is on three areas: the domestic versus the common European security culture; the threats and their impact on specific referent objects; and when securitization could play a significant role in the promotion of a common security agenda.

    a. Domestic Vs Common European security culture.

    For any multi-unit entity to have a common security culture, the units that comprise the entity must share a common perception of what constitutes a threat. The EU is no exception. But, as mentioned, this does not seem to be the case in the Union and its periphery, as in most cases the perception of what is a significant threat differs considerably from state to state. As a result there is an unavoidable clash between domestic security cultures and a common European one. Indeed there is not even an official definition of what a European security culture is, much less a common one. 

    It is not surprising that each state would like to see its own security issues get ‘baptized’ as (common) European security issues, as this would allow for the development of a common agenda on how to deal with the problem. However this is not an easy task, even for powerful states such as the UK that would like to promote a specific security agenda. The reality is that the domestic security culture will always prevail over any (proposed) common European Security Culture if the former is incompatible with the latter. States that have particular security issues to deal with, be it internal or external, deal with them almost exclusively and subsequently downgrade the importance of other European security issues, such as immigration or terrorism, which might be promoted by other EU member states (e.g. the UK). The cases of Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey and to a lesser degree Croatia, Slovenia and the Baltic states are indicative examples. 

    The degree of threat internalization is an equally important factor. The deeply internalized perceptions of security threats (as well as enemies) that states have create unique ‘domestic’ security cultures that cannot easily be integrated into a common European security culture, enhancing thus the incompatibility between the two. 

    b. Same threat, different impact. 

    That each country has a different perception of what constitutes a threat for them is not surprising. However, what is many times counter intuitive is that each state may view a specific issue as a security threat for different reasons. The most obvious example is the issue of immigration. Spain for instance perceives the increase in immigration as a social and economic threat. Malta on the other hand sees immigration as a demographic problem and as such it considers it to be one of the most important security threats the country faces. This is because what is at risk for the Maltese is not just the economic prosperity of the country but rather the survival of the Maltese identity. Similarly, the immigration of Turkish settlers in Cyprus creates a security threat for Greek (and Turkish) Cypriots where the referent object at risk is (among other) their identity. Therefore, it becomes obvious that defining the referent object under threat is just as important as defining the threats per se. 

    There is, therefore, a ‘second degree’ of incompatibility that goes beyond the different threat perceptions, namely that of the endangered referent objects (e.g. economy, identity, social cohesion, etc). The implications are rather obvious: the measures each state will take to tackle a threat depend on the endangered referent object (e.g. economy, identity, etc) and not necessarily on the threat per se. But if this is indeed the case, then there are also implications on the development of a common European security agenda, since even if the threats are the same (e.g. immigration), the referent objects in danger may not be, meaning that it will be particularly difficult for all member states to come up with a universally acceptable agenda on how to deal with the threats.

    c. Securitization could work…but not always.

    Can securitization play a major role in the development of a common European security culture? More specifically, is it possible to securitize specific issues, such as transnational terrorism or immigration to a degree that it becomes part of a common European security culture? This is what some states, such as the UK and the US, hope to achieve; promote the security issues that are the most important to them as common European security issues. However, so far their attempts to create such common existential threats remain relatively unsuccessful, with the exception of some cases. In Portugal for example, terrorism is considered to be the number one threat (and is treated as such by the government) even though the country has not suffered from any transnational terrorism in the past three decades and is not involved in any activities that could trigger terrorist attacks in the future. It must be noted though, that Portugal is not pre-occupied with other ‘hard’ security threats (e.g. border disputes). 

    Overall, however, the securitizing actors (in this case UK and US) have been unsuccessful in most cases, primarily because the majority of EU member states remain largely unaffected from terrorism and they have other security issues to deal with, which are, most times, better securitized by domestic securitizing actors. Even for countries such as Greece that has ‘internal’ terrorism, the issue of terrorism is still relatively low in the country’s ‘hierarchy of concerns’, not least because it is preoccupied with other security issues such as the Turkish border disputes over the Aegean. 

    What could be concluded is that the securitization of some issues and their promotion as part of a common European security culture could succeed if (a) they have a direct effect on the state (e.g. immigration), and (b) if the country does not have other domestic security issues that are deeply internalized and require much more attention. 

    The Grim Prospects for the Development of a Common European Security Culture

  • 17/01/2014 - by Constantinos Adamides

    The term ‘energy security’ primarily refers to the ability of states to have uninterrupted access to energy at affordable prices without significant and unexpected price fluctuations. This definition is clearly more suitable for the energy ‘receiving’ states but not necessarily the ‘producing’ ones. For the latter, energy security could also mean to be free from threats that would jeopardize the ability to have control of and/or secure: (i) ones’ resources, (ii) the means of extraction and (iii) the transportation facilities and (iv) one’s storage facilities. What makes however energy security much more important than the security of any other commodity or service – such as for instance uninterrupted access to potatoes – is that it can profoundly affect a state on multiple levels, ranging from state security, to the functioning of society and, obviously, to the economy.

    Energy security is an evolving concept that has become more complex over time. It is thus not surprising that it is examined and analyzed in a multidisciplinary manner with the focus revolving around sovereignty, ‘robustness’ and resilience with roots in political science, natural sciences and engineering and economics respectively. This need for multidisciplinary analysis also lies in the fact that the primary state needs for, and implications of, energy security have not remained static over the years. For instance, the first decades of the 20th century energy security focused on the states’ ability to have sufficient supplies for their armies, whereas at a later stage energy security for developed countries was necessary in order to support their industrialization. In the latter case energy security focused on economic growth rather than state security, without of course discounting the importance of energy for non-economic reasons during the same period or the importance of a strong economy for any state’s security. 

    The fact that the increasing demand for oil coincided with the decolonization period, coupled with the fact that most developed states were not self-sufficient in terms of energy production, meant that these states had to satisfy their energy needs from territories that were no longer under their political influence. Inevitably, energy insecurity is perceived as an existential threat – and can thus be securitized as a referent object – in the political, military and economic sectors and cannot be analyzed independently in only one of the three sectors. On the contrary, it is imperative that such analysis takes place in a cross-sector manner taking into consideration the political, economic and military impact energy (in)security has on the securitization and security bilateral and regional relations. The 1970’s oil crisis is indicative of the need for such a multisectoral analysis. The industrialized states’ need for energy security and the elimination of related threats forced the former to seek uninterrupted supply through the perpetuation or ‘creation’ of stable regimes, which they would not hesitate to support or oppose with extraordinary measures in political, financial and military ways as is evident from the military interventions in the gulf region and what seems to be the unwavering political, military and financial support of Saudi Arabia and other friendly regimes. 

    The importance of energy security, unlike the security of other commodities or services, is unique for three additional reasons (besides the fact that it has a multi-level impact as described above). The first two reasons deal with the characteristics of energy insecurity, namely those of imminence and immediacy. The third is in regards to the inherent ability of energy to have a multiplier effect – positive or negative – on the existing securitization inter-state relations in the political, economic and military sectors. 

    Energy insecurity has the characteristic of imminence as it could develop at any given time, many times without much warning, and is frequently subject to factors that are completely unrelated to energy per se. For instance, political and economic sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions could potentially lead to global energy insecurity. Similarly, the political reconfiguration of the Middle East and the regime changes in the Post-Arab Spring period could lead to the disruption of decade-long energy agreements, creating sudden existential threats for a number of states.

    Energy insecurity is also characterized by immediacy, meaning that the impact of energy interruptions is immediate and potentially severe if the receiving party has no alternatives. The 2009 Russia – Ukraine gas dispute is indicative of how immediate the impact can be for a country with no alternative energy options. With the press of a button Russia brought Ukraine to a halt creating economic and social havoc to its neighboring state, but also anxiety and insecurity to the EU, given the latter’s significant dependency on Russian gas. Inevitably an economic issue – as was the dispute between Russia and Ukraine for the gas prices and debts – became an existential threat for the rest of Europe and was thus securitized accordingly. That said, the issue was not treated as an economic threat but rather as a political one; indeed, the EU threatened Russia with political repercussions and extraordinary measures that could lead up to the ‘breakdown of political relations’. 

    The third characteristic of energy is the latter’s ability to act as a ‘multiplier factor’, meaning that it can heighten or diminish the intensity of securitized relations between states on political, economic and even military levels. State relations characterized by intense securitization in the political and military sectors (e.g. Israel, Palestinian authorities, Lebanon) will tend to worsen when the energy factor is incorporated in the equation. Conversely, energy can intensify desecuritization or keep escalations at a minimum if the environment is already desecuritized or ‘not very’ securitized. 

    The ‘new’ Middle East in the post-Arab Spring period coupled with the newly found energy sources in the Eastern Mediterranean will test the limits of how influential energy security can be. One case worth following is Israel, which will sooner or later rely less on the Egyptian gas as it will become self-sufficient. Whether the diminished energy dependency will have a positive or negative impact on the two states’ relations cannot yet be determined. On one hand it can potentially reduce the (increasing) Egyptian voices asking for harsh measures against Israel. On the other hand if energy is the ‘glue’ that holds the securitization relations at a low level, then the absence of such variable  (energy) could more easily lead to heightened securitization in the political and even military sectors with unknown outcomes.

    * This article is part of a wider research project on energy securitization with Odysseas Christou. For more information on the see Christou O. and Adamides C. (2013). Energy Securitization and Desecuritization in the New Middle East. Security Dialogue, October-December 44: 507-522.

    Dr. Constantinos Adamides is a Lecturer at the Department of European Studies and International Relations of the University of Nicosia and a Research Fellow at the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs. 

    Energy (in)security and the impact on securitization relationships in the Eastern Mediterranean

  • 17/01/2014 - by Christina Ioannou

    Five years on from the bankruptcy of the Wall Street bank, Lehman Brothers, and Europe is still licking its wounds. Incontrovertibly this is the worst financial crisis in post-war European history, triggering severe budgetary and banking crises in many member states of the Union. The crisis has highlighted many of the inherent weaknesses of the supranational financial institutions, bringing down the house of straw on which the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) had been built. Although modelled around the European Central Bank (ECB), the EMU effectively lacked the instruments that could guarantee a strictly coordinated economic policy, as well as an institutional mechanism that could restore economic stability in times of crisis and attract capital investments in times of market uncertainty.

    As borrowing costs fell dramatically after the introduction of the Euro, in line with Germany‟s historically low interest rates, new member states had access to great amounts of capital from the ECB and a frenzied borrowing process began. In the absence of a European rating agency, the risk and uncertainty caused by this uncontrolled borrowing was not evaluated correctly. Governments found themselves with unsustainable debts and the sole institution of the Eurozone, the ECB, was not able to handle the situation. Apart from the fact that a European stability mechanism was non-existent (while it should have been established from the beginning), the absence of a single fiscal authority, with the jurisdiction to set a common fiscal policy across the Eurozone, became a most acute problem and the ECB was unable to respond to the crisis through an expansionary monetary policy. This absence of a fiscal authority also meant that the ECB had no one to count on for both short-term and long-term financial control.

    In the absence of such solid regulations, and following multi-trillion government bailouts, the March Eurogroup meetings on Cyprus experimented on a new rescue model: a „bail-in‟. In contrast to the „bailout‟ recipe – by that time widely used in the European periphery – the „bail-in‟ deal involved bank creditors bearing losses for failed banks. By transferring the financial burden on shareholders, bondholders and large depositors, the German-led group of countries supporting this new model aimed at ensuring that taxpayers would no longer be the first in line to take on the burden of banking failures. This would eventually break the link between sovereign debt markets and banks.

    Following the second Eurogroup meeting on Cyprus of 24 March 2013, Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup Chair, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, commented that the Cyprus bailout could serve as a model for others. The statement ruffled feathers and he soon had to retract it by tweeting that Cyprus was of course a special case! Even though Dijsselbloem‟s initial statement was considered by some to be very unfortunate, it is doubtful that it was a slipup. Just four days later in fact, the ECB Governing Council member Klaas Knot stated that there was "little wrong" with Dijsselbloem's recipe for dealing with future Eurozone banking crises: “The content of his [Dijsselbloem‟s] remarks comes down to an approach which has been on the table for a longer time in Europe. This approach will be part of the European liquidation policy.” It is no secret in fact that this idea was for years being discussed in the highest circles of the European banking sector.

    It comes as no surprise then that the latest Union decision has been for Europe-wide „bail-in‟ rules – Cypriot style! And it comes as no surprise that Dijsselbloem welcomed this decision by hailing the agreement as a
    major step towards a banking union and away from state funded aid to recapitalise or bailout troubled banks across Europe. Even though the need of reviving the momentum to move towards a banking union is not being questioned, what IS being questioned is whether this is a brick-step towards that direction. The reservation relates to the fact that, in case of bail-ins, the obvious way to avoid bank runs is by imposing capital controls, as is happening in Cyprus right now. But even this cannot be a permanent policy and cannot prevent or mitigate fears of future bank runs. Moreover, this measure is not in line with EU principles of free capital movements; even worse, such capital controls, which prevent the trading of the currency, can eventually cause huge discrepancies in the currency across Eurozone members.

    If the EU wishes to preserve the Euro, it is imperative to restore lost confidence in its financial system. The EU is attempting to do this in the absence of a fiscal union – an unpopular scenario as it involves sacrificing state sovereignty on fiscal management. This only leaves policy-makers with one option: a banking union. This should entail, at a very minimum, a single supervisory mechanism (SSM) for banks, which will be led by the ECB; at a maximum, a single resolution mechanism (SRM) to handle bust banks, but this is difficult as the EU Treaties provide no base for such mechanism. The EU is currently working towards this direction, with the SRM currently in the making. It is believed that the latter will be established by the time the ECB assumes full supervisory responsibilities as the region's single banking supervisor, at some point in late 2014 or early 2015.

    So in the post-experimental era, the EU is reluctantly getting its skates on to work towards revisiting some of the anomalies and institutional weaknesses emanating from the foundations of the EMU structure. The new structure should be able to guarantee stability, not just to the countries of the affluent North, but also to those of the weaker South. The ultimate aim should be that next time the financial “wolf-pack” blows the wind of crisis the direction of this house of straw, the “little PIICGS” will be living in a house of bricks.

    Dr. Christina Ioannou is Assistant Professor of European Politics in the Department European Studies and International Relations and an Associate Member of the Law Department, at the University of Nicosia.

    Image source: http://jags-webdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/straw-house-three-little-pigsgold-country-girls--three-little-pigs-kpfudf2u.jpg

    Cyprus Bail-In Becomes a Rescue Blueprint... In a House of Straw

  • 17/01/2014 - by University of Nicosia Cyprus

    Το Πανεπιστήμιο Λευκωσίας και το Intercollege σας προσκαλούν σε Βραδιές Ενημέρωσης

    Τετάρτη, 15 Ιανουαρίου, στο Πανεπιστήμιο Λευκωσίας, στη Λευκωσία.

    Πέμπτη, 16 Ιανουαρίου, στο Ξενοδοχείο «Four Seasons», στη Λεμεσό·

    Παρασκευή, 17 Ιανουαρίου, στις εγκαταστάσεις του Intercollege στη Λάρνακα.


    Ενημέρωση για:
    - τα προγράμματα σπουδών του Πανεπιστημίου Λευκωσίας καθώς και του Intercollege
    - τα ελληνόφωνα τμήματα/προγράμματα σπουδών
    - τις υποτροφίες και χορηγίες
    - τις δυνατότητες εγγραφής, μετεγγραφής και συνέχισης σπουδών
    - τα νέα προγράμματα σπουδών που ανταποκρίνονται στις σημερινές απαιτήσεις
    - το μοναδικό έμπειρο τεστ επαγγελματικού προσανατολισμού «ΑΡΙΣΤΟΝ»
     
    Οι Βραδιές Ενημέρωσης ξεκινούν στις 6:00 το απόγευμα.
     
    Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, επικοινωνήστε με το Τμήμα Εισδοχής Φοιτητών του Πανεπιστημίου Λευκωσίας, στο τηλέφωνο 22841528 ή στην ηλεκτρονική διεύθυνση: demetriou.t@unic.ac.cy.

    Βραδίες Ενημέρωσης Πανεπιστημίου Λευκωσίας

  • 17/01/2014 - by University of Nicosia Cyprus

    On Saturday 2nd of November a successful outreach event to the Troodos mountain communities of Kampos and Tsakistra marked the inauguration of the University of Nicosia Medical School Mobile Clinic.

    A team of seven T-year student volunteers, under the guidance of clinical faculty, carried out blood pressure, glucose and spirometry tests for the elderly population of these villages.

    The event was a success, the inhabitants of both villages were very pleased and our students gained invaluable experience while at the same time enjoyed beautiful parts of the Cyprus countryside.

    Steven Perry, Class of 2016
    “It was a great experience, everyone we saw was very appreciative of what we were doing, they were very enthusiastic. Personally I liked the fact that we were able to do something that although for us was very basic, like blood pressure measurements, glucose readings, spirometry however for those individuals it meant a lot.”

    Kevin Morrison, Class of 2016
    “For me it was a really good opportunity to get out of the classroom, get out of the city and just experience the mountains and spend sometime in the communities. I also got the opportunity to work with my classmates and work alongside the doctors that have been educating me for the last 2 years. I hope we do it again - it definitely gave me another avenue to look at how medicine integrates into communities and into the villages and to try something that felt a more like a rural type of approach to medicine, which was great.”

    Amy Leshner, Class 2016
    “It was nice that we went to the villages. The people seemed very happy to have us there, they were very welcoming and we were offered home-made sweets. Overall it was a special experience being there and it gave us a chance to practise both our clinical and communication skills with the specific population.”

    The UNIC Medical School's Mobile Clinic

 

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    The building can be a headache but the staff are friendly and always want to help. There is less of a challenge at this college than universities back in the U.S.

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