Apart from abolishing a contentious university asylum law to quash lawlessness on Greek campuses, the center-right government plans to overhaul the education sector and “repair the damage” wreaked by the previous leftist administration, Education Minister Niki Kerameus has told Kathimerini in her first interview.
Asked about the law preventing police from entering university grounds and whose abolition the government will propose in the first bill it submits next week, Kerameus said the key aim is to ensure safety. “Without safety, there is no free exchange of ideas and no academic freedom,” Kerameus said.
“Our universities have been turned into lairs of violence and crime.” Authorities should be able to intervene in the event of lawlessness on campus as they are able to do in any other public space, she said.
As for the previous government’s drive to upgrade technical colleges, Kerameus remarked that, although technical education should be bolstered, her predecessors went about it the wrong way, “without academic criteria, assessment or feasibility studies.”
The new government plans to change the way universities are run, reintroducing academic councils and seeking new forms of funding through donations, the minister said. The strategic aim is to create “autonomous, self-governing, evaluated, competitive, outward-looking” institutions that are in step with the job market, she added.
One initiative will be to offer undergraduate studies in foreign languages in a bid to attract students from non-European Union countries. Another will be to explore public-private partnerships to cover certain needs such as student accommodation.
The government will also seek to promote experimental and model schools that could operate as hubs for “excellence and innovation,” Kerameus said, noting that authorities aimed to “repair the damage” wreaked by the leftist SYRIZA government “due to its ideology.”
Questioned about a tentative deal between former premier Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymos to decharacterize priests as civil servants, Kerameus said it was “not an agreement but a proposal” which has been rejected by the Holy Synod.
She added that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he disagrees with the idea of removing priests from the state payroll.