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A month ago Anna Diamandopoulu took office as the Greek Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2009). Of the host of policy priorities and changes she already proposed, two are particularly relevant for higher education. They basically consist of “freezing” two initiatives of her predecessor: the merger of around thirty research centres into a group of larger ones and the recognition of private colleges in Greece.
The proposed merger of the research centres was mainly led by economic reasons, as the previous government refused to provide the extra funding necessary for research. In contrast, the newly-elected socialist government seems determined to guarantee the independence of the research centres and has promised to double research funding, from 1 to 2 percent of GNP. It is not clear, however, where the extra money will come from.
The recognition of private colleges has been a very controversial issue in Greece for quite some time. It has brought the country in front of the European Court of Justice for violation of European law numerous times (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2008). It is not completely clear yet if the decision of the new minister denotes opposition to the recognition principle itself, or only to the method used by the previous minister to recognise private institutions.
One thing is certain: such challenging proposals are bound to trigger strong reactions.