Large-scale fake diploma scandal involving MHP deputy linked university rocks Northern Cyprus

Over 600 forged diplomas were reportedly issued by an employee of a university in Northern Cyprus tied to the Turkish government-ally MHP deputy Levent Uysal and his wife Ece Uysal.

MHP deputy Levent Uysal (R) with links to the fake diploma scandal poses with party chair Devlet Bahçeli (L)

Duvar English

A scandal involving Cyprus Health and Social Sciences University (KTSU) in alleged forgery of fake diplomas has gripped Northern Cyprus in recent weeks.

The university linked to the government-ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Mersin deputy Levent Uysal and his wife Ece Uysal have allegedly been implicated in forging documents on a large scale, with multiple high-ranking officials, military personnel, and civil servants involved in the affair.

According to a report by the daily Kıbrıs Newspaper on March 21, one employee admitted that he issued over 600 forged diplomas to various individuals.

Lieutenant Colonel Özgür Alp was the latest addition to the long list of high-ranking individuals purportedly involved in obtaining fake diplomas, reported the online news outlet Kıbrıs Postası. 

Alp appeared in court on March 20 and was remanded in custody for two days.

Among the other detained officials allegedly obtaining a forged diploma are Northern Cyprus lawmaker Emrah Yeşilırmak and Meray Dürüst, Director of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Additionally, former education minister Kemal Doğru and his wife were detained in late February for their roles in issuing fake documents.

Moreover, Turgay Avcı, head of the Northern Cyprus higher education watchdog YÖDAK, faces investigation over suspicions regarding the authenticity of his own diploma.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of YÖDAK, Derviş Refiker, and Şerif Avcil, a close aide to President Ersin Tatar, are currently in custody for their assumed involvement in the scandal.

MHP Deputy Uysal has also been embroiled in other high-profile controversies, including an alleged falsification of documents to secure a 45 million euro loan from Switzerland.

Uysal currently benefits from parliamentary immunity following his election as an MHP lawmaker in the May 2023 elections.

In recent decades, the higher education sector has become one of the locomotives of Northern Cyprus’s economy.

The island’s northern part has around 22 universities and hosts approximately 107,000 students, including many international students, according to a recent report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project. 

However, Education Ministry figures show that at least 20% of registered students are absent.

Furthermore, many of these universities have been implicated in other scandals in recent years, such as human trafficking and smuggling activities.

(English version by Wouter Massink)