NEWS

Orthodox colleges to be bumped up a grade

Objections were raised over a government education bill which was unveiled yesterday. The bill upgrades clerical colleges which produce priests for Greece's churches by giving them the same status as universities and allowing for exclusive entrance criteria. According to the bill presented by Education Minister Marietta Giannakou the clerical schools in Ioannina, Thessaloniki, Iraklion and Athens will effectively be transformed into a form of Greek Orthodox universities. They will be given this status from the next academic year and will be able to award degrees that are on a par with those offered by the country's other universities, although graduates will not be able to apply for jobs in the public sector. Apart from general university entrance examinations, candidates wishing to attend the schools in question will have to be interviewed by a special panel and will have to provide a letter of recommendation from a bishop who can vouch for the candidate's faith and morals. Women will not be allowed to apply to the new universities. The bill has caused concern in academia, especially theological schools, which focus more on religious studies than on preparing clerics. They fear that the new Orthodox universities will be given preferential treatment at the expense of other schools.

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