Greek state universities and technical colleges are looking all the way to the Far East for collaborations with institutions there in a bid to attract students from overseas and hopefully bring some revenues into their crisis-hit coffers.
Most rectors are eyeing China as a likely source of overseas students, while a few are exploring ways of drumming up business with Chinese companies that are active in Greece, such as shipping giant Cosco.
Meanwhile, universities are also forging ties with institutions in other countries, such as Russia and the United Arab Emirates, the latter of which is expected to inaugurate the first overseas branch of a Greek university in 2013. There also seems to be some interest from neighboring countries such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Moldova for collaborations.
The rector of the University of the Peloponnese, Theodoros Papatheodorou, told Kathimerini that he has already signed a deal with the Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, which is one of the oldest in China (founded in 1796), as well as one of the biggest.
?We have agreed on exchanges of students, professors and researchers, on developing political, economic and technological departments in Greece and China, and establishing permanent bodies for the study and research of Chinese and Greek culture respectively,? Papatheodorou said.
Within the framework of the same agreement, the Greek university will host an institute of Sino-European studies that will be aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The University of Piraeus, in turn, has come to an arrangement with the China Youth University for Political Sciences. According to the vice rector in charge of the institution?s academic affairs, Giorgos Vasilakopoulos, the Chinese university boasts a number of high-ranking politicians and businessmen among its graduates, while the collaborations signed concern exchanges of students and teaching staff, as well as the development of joint research programs.
Individual departments at the University of Piraeus, meanwhile, such as those of Maritime Affairs and Logistics, are exploring the possibility of collaborations such as studies with Chinese corporations like Cosco that are active in Greece in the sectors in which the departments specialize.
At the Agricultural University of Athens, authorities are waiting for the license to be issued for Greece?s first university branch overseas, which is to be located in the UAE. Rector Constantinos Feggeros told Kathimerini that the department will be working closely with the Hail Agricultural Development Company, which is active throughout the region, and it is expected to go into operation in 2013-14 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Southeastern Europe is where the University of Western Macedonia, which has departments in the northern cities of Florina and Kozani, is setting its sights. The institution has already forged collaborations with universities in Cyprus, the Balkans and Russia for student exchanges and staff training, but it would like to assume a more active role as ?a gateway of cross-border relationships,? according to Theodoros Hatzipantelis, head of the university?s administrative committee.
Technical colleges (TEI) such as the Serres TEI in northern Greece, which has already embarked on a collaboration with institutions in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova, are making similar overtures. The college already has two postgraduate programs in English and wants to develop three-year undergraduate programs in languages other than Greek in order to attract foreign students.
?The benefits are twofold for the institution and for the region,? said the Serres TEI?s head, Dimitris Paschalidis.