Hit by flight abroad, colleges offer discounts

Greek annexes of foreign colleges and universities are preparing to lower fees as the country?s biting economic crisis and the growing flight of young people abroad seem to have dampened demand.

Constantinos Karkanias, president of the Hellenic Colleges? Association (HCA), notes that the number of school graduates seeking information on studies is down by more than 20 percent this year compared to 2011. Demand is expected to pick up by October, when registrations close, but the majority of college administrators believe that it will not rise to last year?s levels and are preparing to offer discounts.

The current fees for undergraduate courses range between 6,000 and 8,500 euros and for graduate courses between 8,000 and 13,500 euros annually, but the college officials told Kathimerini they are preparing to lower fees by 15-20 percent.

At the same time, the colleges are pressing the Education Ministry for the urgent activation of Law 3696 of 2008, providing for official recognition of their degrees, arguing among other things that this would attract students from Asia and the Middle East. They point out that this has also been called for by the troika, in the context of the deregulation of services in Greece.

?If the problem of the [official] recognition of the degrees awarded by European universities with college annexes in Greece had been solved, we would have had an increase in the number of foreign students coming here and a decrease in the number of Greeks going abroad,? argues Karkanias.

The flight of Greek students abroad seems to be divided into two currents. One, of mainly low-budget families who seem to prefer universities or colleges in countries of Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic), for which demand has risen by up to 30 percent — apparently lured by lower fees and cost of living than in Greece — and another, of better-off families who prefer western Europe, mainly the UK, in the hope that a degree there will also secure employment after graduation.