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Controversial higher education reforms in Greece

After a three months of fervent protest, Greek universities recommenced classes on 16 April. The disquiet in response to the governments highly controversial draft law aiming to reform higher education has far from ceased however. Immediately following the declared university re-opening, POSDEP, the Greek federation of university teachers, called a rally in Athens. The proposed law at the heart of this drama has already been passed by the parliament on 8 March 2007. It foresees fixing a maximum number of years for the completion of the undergraduate degree. The law comes as a response to traditional foot dragging in degree programmes, a phenomenon that is both a function of zero student fees and a flexible degree paces. This seems a reasonable reform, as about 94,000 undergraduate university students who enrolled 8 years ago have yet to complete their four or five year programmes. Other measures under the bill would increase institutional autonomy and tailor state funding around four year strategic development plans, reforms well in coherence with the Bologna Process. Though contested, these reforms are mild compared to the initial ambition of the government to allow private universities to open, a measure which would require changing the constitution. Two new pieces of legislation, equally deplored by the student population, foresee the introduction of fees for post-graduate degrees, and links allocation of research funds to university evaluation. The Greek government, with its recent initiatives, is clearly getting the message on Europe-wide university reform, yet will continue to have a hard-time mulling through public resistance. Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs