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The demographic shift of labour away from the areas outside economic centres has forced many European countries to come up with creative solutions in order to secure a balanced regional development. In the March edition of ACA Newsletter – Education Europe we reported on the East German approach to the problem of deserted lecture halls. Greece is trying to shift students from the popular universities of Thessalonica and Athens to the provincial universities by cutting study places at the central universities and allocating them to the provinces.
In the past few years, the peripheral universities of Greece have lost a great deal of students. The reason for this, in addition to the growing popularity of the metropolitan universities, has been the Greek legislation that does not allow students who achieve a pass grade of less than 10 out of 20 to enter higher education. In order to restore the demographic balance, the authorities have decided to re-allocate in total 39,000 study places to the provincial universities. The majority is going to the universities of Ioannina, Dimokritos, Patras, Crete and Aegean. Even though this might boost local economies, it is not good news for the students as it will in most cases increase the cost of study.
In 2008, more than 145,000 students applied for higher education in Greece. Only 60 % of them will be accepted, leaving 60,000 without a study place at a university.