|International students in a foreign Varsity|
...Says North Cyprus is safe for Nigerian students.
First of all may I thank the ladies and gentlemen of the press for attending this press conference at such short notice during their busy schedules. I hope that you are not disappointed since in truth there is not much of a story to tell, but in the absence of a formal statement it is unfortunate that certain individuals have chosen to fill this vacuum with their own fantasies.
I hope that today I can make some personal reassurances correct any misunderstandings and dispel some of the negative propaganda that has emerged over the past few days.
We were all deeply saddened by the loss of one of our students Gabriel Soriwei who tragically passed away after a period in Hospital in September.
As there's an ongoing Police investigation into the incident it is not appropriate for me to speculate as to the cause of death or the outcome of the enquiry, and we need to let these matters run their full course.
Again on behalf of Cyprus international university I wish to extend my condolences to Mr. Patrick Soriwei, Gabriel's father; his good lady Wife; family; and to all of his friends in Cyprus and here in Nigeria affected by this news.
The loss of one’s child is a parents’ worst nightmare, and it is made all the more painful when this happens overseas and when it is totally unexpected. You have my deepest sympathy.
However, from the moment we learned of the incident, and throughout the difficult times experienced afterwards, our staffs have acted with the utmost integrity and professionalism, providing empathy and support to the family above and beyond their call of duty.
In the aftermath we have also fully co-operated with the Nigerian officials who visited North Cyprus met with Hospital staff and TRNC representatives, and students of the university.
In returning the deceased to the family we followed the conventions of international protocol and in accordance with the guidance provided by our colleagues within the Nigerian government.
At all times we had the interests of the family at heart and our conduct was appropriate to the circumstances.
Which is why it is particularly hurtful and regretful that certain individuals have chosen to use this unfortunate and tragic event in order to make wild and unfounded allegations against CIU and its staff in an attempt to bring into disrepute the good name of the University.
This is particularly upsetting for prospective students, current students and our highly successful alumni, since it seeks to undermine their achievements, and threatens to spoil their dreams and aspirations.
We have spoken at length to our current students who are for the most part totally perplexed by the reports emanating from their homeland, since this depiction is not the Cyprus they know and love, and certainly bears no reality to their current experiences.
I know many parents have been trying to contact their children in CIU, and I encourage you to continue to do so. In our contact with the students we are also asking that they too contact you and put your mind at ease.
North Cyprus is a safe place for Nigerian students.
In fact North Cyprus is one of the safest countries in the world according to Lonely Planet.
Cyprus is a tranquil peaceful island that is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is increasingly a destination of choice for those that wish to retire in the sun.
North Cyprus provides a friendly convivial environment that is conducive to study as is attested by over 50 000 current students in its eight official Universities.
With a population of around 300,000 local inhabitants, students now make up about one in seven of the population, with the effect of making this welcoming friendly environment for our students on the island.
A former British Colony up until 1960 many of the locals speak English, although Turkish is of course their first language But with English being widely spoken by students, young Cypriots do like to practice English with their newfound friends.
Of course, we provide all of our students with basic Turkish language skills, and an introduction to Cypriot history and culture to help orientate them in their new surroundings
CIU holds the importance of the welfare and safety of its students as paramount.
That is why we have high quality on campus accommodation, guaranteed for all international students for as long as we need it, and go at great lengths to encourage new arrivals to make use of these facilities at least during their first 12 months whilst they are acclimatizing to their new surroundings.
These apartments and study dormitories are fully compliant will all international safety standards, swipe card entry systems and with hall managers and a professional maintenance team there is always someone on hand to assist with any issue.
We provide a 24 hour security service that patrols the campus and can respond rapidly to any request for assistance.
Furthermore the University has a medical team that ensures that fully qualified doctors and nurses are available around the clock, and in the unlikely event of a medical emergency, we have an ambulance on campus, ready to take patients to the local state hospital in under 5 minutes.
It should be noted that we include full medical insurance for all our students during their time with us in order that any treatment is provided free of charge.
Ok, but several people have asked us what we are doing now in response to the incident.
We are in constant dialogue with the authorities investigating the case, and are putting whatever pressure we can to ensure that this thorough investigation reaches a timely conclusion. However, when road incidents result in a fatality, those investigating need to be allowed the time to do their job.
Any false allegations about corruption concerning investigating officers or trial by media of the driver involved in the initial collision are not helpful and may prejudice the court proceedings. This has to stop.
We have appointed British qualified full time Psychologists and counsellors to provide psychological and emotional support for any student affected by bereavement or any other concern that might need such professional help.
Students that experience trauma stress or other related welfare issues are encouraged, and in some cases referred to this support service.
We have also reviewed our student representation provision, in order to ensure that student reps are freely elected members of the student body and come without their own personal agenda.
Country representatives for each of the almost 70 nationalities including of course Nigeria, are elected to be a mouthpiece for their students.
They are there to provide a voice for any individual or group that may have concerns.
These representatives are provided with full training, including mentoring skills, communication skills organizational and event management experience and will represent their students at the highest level on University committees.
This new initiative also provides for regional President and Vice Presidents for sub Saharan Africa as one of three global regions.
Prior to departure all students are given briefings as to what to expect on arrival onto the island and we will arrange free airport pickups to ensure their safe arrival on campus.
On arrival during orientation and registration, students will attend full safety briefings and advice will be given to all students, including reminding them that we drive on the left hand side of the road for instance. We also provide them with what to do in emergencies including local phone numbers for all emergency services etc.
I turn now to another concern, and that is the worry that study in North Cyprus and in particular CIU, is not recognized or accredited. Those that are trying to make political gain and those that are trying to take advantage of the current negative press are happy to let confusion reign without proper investigation
Let me try and untangle any confusion.
CIU is a fully accredited institution of Higher Education It is accredited by the Turkish Republic Higher Education Board The International Association of Universities The European Association for International Education and is recognized by and a member of UKNARIC.
Individual faculties belong to their professional bodies including the European Council For Business Education, the Council on a Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Education The European Consortium for political research and a variety of Scientific and Engineering bodies.
CIU also has over 100 academic partners worldwide and works with the Quality assurance agencies of all major countries.
Individual countries have inspected our facilities, and recognize CIU in its accreditation departments.
Nigeria is one of those countries and one that we continue to enjoy a firm relationship with.
It is important to stress that before its inception in 1997 Cyprus International University spent five years ensuring that it applied due diligence and the highest academic rigor, quality assurance, and robust support functions before offering its academic programs.
In the sixteen years of its existence CIU has produced high quality education to countless Nigerian and other international students that has been recognized by employers and educational providers the world over.
We consider our international students to be well educated and prepared for the future and fine ambassadors for ourselves, their family and their country.
I wish to make it plain that the misguided attempts to discredit the institution has a wide reaching effect to those who proudly gained their educational training at CIU and I hope that those who are behind this see the error of their ways.
It is a sad fact of life that people die in motorway accidents all over the world. Thankfully through traffic calming measures and a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h with average speed cameras ensuring that on such stretches the overwhelming majority of drivers adhere to this, North Cyprus is relatively free of such incidents.
It is difficult to see how any University can be held accountable for off campus incidents during the summer holidays, but perhaps the emotions and the lack of closure has led some to seek cause and effect and attribute blame where none exists.
I do sincerely hope that the family can come to terms with their loss, and that the investigation reaches their conclusions so the full disclosure of the facts can be in the public domain.
In the meantime I ask that common sense prevail, for the sake of all the students and parents of CIU past present and future, and for the true memory of Gabriel Soriwei our sorely missed student and friend to so many of our current Nigerian students.
I extend an open invitation to any government accreditation body to come and inspect our premises, and to any members of the gathered representatives of the press to come and see North Cyprus and our institution at first hand.
I would like to thank all the students and parents for their support and understanding over the past few days and thank all those countless people who have sent messages of support. I also wish to express my thanks to all our Nigerian Agents that have worked tirelessly to inform parents and students without prejudice.
I wish to thank all those who planned to see us in Uyo and Lagos, but we're unable to due to the enforced postponing of the visits by ourselves, and I hope very much to visit you at our next opportunity.
I would extend my thanks to the staff and management of the Sheraton Abuja for providing this venue today and for all the ladies and gentlemen of the press for their attendance.
Thanks for your attention.