President of Cyprus Parliament and Kent Politics Alumna Annita Demetriou speaks to our Psychology student Anna Panteli


-What influenced your decision to choose University of Kent for your studies?

From an early age, I recognized my passion and interest for engaging actively in public affairs and directing my knowledge and enthusiasm towards the improvement of both society and my homeland. This realisation guided my decision to study Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cyprus and throughout my studies, my research focus naturally gravitated towards the international dimension of the Cyprus problem, along with broader issues of International and European law and Human Rights. Consequently, my pursuit of postgraduate studies in International Relations and European Studies represented the extension of my undergraduate studies and marked a significant advancement in my academic specialisation in these subjects. After thoroughly exploring my options, I found the program offered by the University of Kent and its curriculum, to be comprehensive and academically intriguing, within an institution of excellent reputation and highly capable academic staff. Reflecting on my academic path, I remain very satisfied and grateful of my personal choice, and the time I spent at Kent certainly remains one of my best memories.

-What did you enjoy the most from your time at the University of Kent?

My time spent at the University of Kent was unarguably an eye-opening experience that broaden my horizons, both academically and on a personal level, significantly shaping the individual I am today. One of the most interesting aspects was being immersed in an international setting, providing me with the chance to engage in discussions and interactions with individuals from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, whereas I also had my first opportunity to represent my culture and articulate the perspectives of my country abroad. From an academic standpoint, following political analyses from various viewpoints within a rigorous scientific framework has proven extremely useful in my subsequent political career. Ultimately, I could not overlook the historical charm and allure of the city of Canterbury, which added an extra layer of richness to my overall experience.

-How did your university experience shape your political views?

Universities serve as points for knowledge acquisition and interpersonal engagement. In this context, my academic experience has endowed me with a solid academic foundation in international issues and conflicts and also equipped me with the essential skills for conflict resolution by employing diplomatic and legal tools grounded in constructive dialogue. Furthermore, my studies delved into the dynamic and progressive evolution of European Union policies and institutions as they stand today. However, the university setting equally presents a distinctive platform for students to engage in the exchange of diverse perspectives and opinions. In this light, I believe that each student should embody the role of an “ambassador,” representing the values of their country within this diverse environment. The dual emphasis on academic knowledge and cultural exchange has played a considerable role in shaping my political views, especially as it concerns my firm commitment in the promotion of human rights, the eradication of gender stereotypes, the empowerment of active citizenship, the strengthening of parliamentary diplomacy and assuredly the pursue for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

-How did your university network support or influence your political journey?

After completing my studies, I opted to continue working in the university environment as a Public Relations Officer and a lecturer in International Relations. This decision underscores my appreciation for and endorsement of post-academic initiatives and networks within universities. I recognize the value these networks contribute, particularly in terms of enhancing graduates’ employability and fostering connections. It’s important to note, however, that holding an official political position, such as a parliamentarian role, is distinct from traditional employment. In such a capacity, elected officials are duty-bound to serve the state and the electorate to the best of their abilities. Consequently, I have not personally leveraged any university network for the advancement of my political journey. My commitment to public service is grounded in fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to me by the people who elected me, separate from university affiliations, which I now support through my institutional capacity as President of the Cyprus Parliament.

-What advice would you give to current students and in particular female students who are interested in pursuing a career in politics?

As previously highlighted, a political career cannot be considered as a conventional occupation or a traditional profession; rather, it should emanate from an intrinsic desire to instigate positive change and devote time and effort to societal betterment. Such a commitment aligns with an individual’s beliefs and vision but it always remains subject to endorsement or rejection by the people’s vote.

In light of this reality, I strongly encourage the younger generation to actively participate in politics and public affairs, urging them to raise their voices and express their opinions. The inclusion of women in decision-making spheres is not an idealistic notion but an essential prerequisite for a democracy, thus gender should never be perceived as a hindrance to progress in any political trajectory. Therefore, I appeal to women to shatter glass ceilings and aspire towards the seemingly unattainable, recognizing that such endeavors ultimately serve democracy and society at large.

 -In your opinion how can universities better support and empower female students who are interested in public service?

The experiences and knowledge gained during university education are indelibly imprinted in the consciousness and memories of students. In my perspective, universities, along with the entire educational sector at all levels, play a pivotal role as catalysts for women’s empowerment and the eradication of various forms of social inequalities. it is therefore essential for academic institutions to serve as exemplars by actively promoting equality through their activities and educational materials. This entails cultivating an inclusive environment that champions gender equality and emphasizes the significance of diverse perspectives and continue taking deliberate steps to promote female role models, ensuring their visibility and recognition in various fields of study, particularly those related to public service.

  • Looking back, how do you perceive your growth and development from a student to a public figure?

From my student years to the present, where I serve as the President of the House of Representatives, much has changed in my daily life, and perhaps even in my personality. However, one characteristic has remained unchanged: my unwavering commitment to vocalize and defend my beliefs, principles, and universal values. It has been a continuous struggle to succeed and articulate a political stance on everything I stand for, emphasizing the importance of dreaming, advocating and fighting for a better future – for all of us.