Edition 88 - August 2008

Greece attempts to jump on privatisation train

The course of privatisation of higher education in Greece never did run smooth. Though government officials, academics, unions and students alike still vehemently oppose any concession towards private provision, it seems that a first step towards the regularisation of private institutions has been taken. In an attempt to get round the opposition, Greek Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, determined push privatisation forward, deliberately waited for the summer session of the parliament to table a controversial draft law that would regularise the status of private colleges and liberal arts institutions via renewable operating licences under the Ministry of Education. The legislation is extremely ambiguous though regarding the terms and conditions for these licences, such as infrastructure, services and staff qualifications. The bill also facilitates cooperation with foreign higher education institutions and recognition of the professional rights of graduates of colleges. The minister was careful to stress that under the new bill private institutions are non-formal education systems and the state universties preserve the exclusive right to hand out diplomas (as opposed to certificates from the private institutions) and to refer to themselves as a university (as opposed to colleges).

While politicians and the academic community are spewing severe criticism, the Greek Colleges Association finds the initiative rather limited and expected it to go a lot further. Whether the new legislation will be implemented remains to be seen. The Technological Exchange, the government’s official advisor in technical matters has already officially announced they would contest the legislation in court and another round of student protests and riots are expected at the beginning of the academic year.

University World News

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