Student flows

By Nikos Xydakis

Analyzing students’ grades after the Greek university entrance exams is somewhat of a national ritual. However, in doing so, what is at stake is parents’ expectations even more than the efforts made by their offspring students. Not to mention the expectations of an entire society committed to a fading target, perhaps a little less obvious than in the past – professional and social advancement through higher education.

Inevitably the financial crisis has affected education. For example fewer families can bear the cost of extra schooling these days. This is not necessarily a negative development for it might end up improving the quality of school education on the whole. A large number of pupils achieved high grades in the recent university entrance exams based on what they were taught at school and by studying at home. This hasn’t been the case since the 1970s.

In the long-term, however, financial strains will have a negative effect on education as a factor of equality, as an opportunity provided to everyone indiscriminately. This kind of impact is visible in the allocation of students between central and peripheral universities. Many families are no longer in a position to cover the cost of their children studying away from home. This is reflected in the number of those who succeeded in the university entrance tests and who applied to study at faculties in their home areas. It is also reflected in the large number of university transfers, amounting to some 20,000 students this year.

This economic and social turnaround might have a negative impact on the flow toward peripheral universities and instead lead to even larger numbers of students heading to the big cities. In any case, while big city institutions will suffer because of an overload, the major victims will be quality regional universities, institutions which also gave new impetus to their host towns.

Let us hope that the flow of candidates and transfers will not lead to the centralization or the demise of university faculties.