Students spurn out-of-Athens institutes, opt for TEI, with the job market as the deciding factor

Students have an eye on the job market when putting down their choices for university entrance exams, Education Ministry statistics show, with an increasing number of candidates opting for information technology, economics-related subjects and military and police academies as their first choice of subject and school. The tables for 2002 – presented by Kathimerini – dispel the myth that candidates invariably show preference for universities instead of technological institutes, with 18-year-olds heading for Tertiary Technical Colleges (TEI) if they can secure them access to the job market, rather than heading for university departments that lead to overcrowded professions and unemployment. Parents have also contributed to shattering the myth by slowly abandoning the mentality of wanting high-status studies for their children (this is the post-junta generation, after all) and are growing reconciled to the notion of technical professions. One factor influencing choice is the location of institutes, which makes a difference for parental finances – better a technical school in Athens than a first-class university in the provinces. The findings emerging from the statistics by the Ministry of Education on the interest shown by students in universities and TEI are as follows: – Information technology schools are in great demand, as is the faculty of electrical and computer engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), which has been the first choice for many candidates in recent years, 2,464 this year. This represents a drop, however, from the 3,698 candidates who made the faculty their first choice in 2001. It seems that the high passing grades needed to enter university IT departments have led to students making more rational choices. This year, many candidates aimed for IT departments which required a lower passing grade or TEI. Both this year and last year, for instance, candidates showed great interest in information technology at the Athens and Thessaloniki TEI. – Correspondingly, demand for all the technological TEI has increased. For example, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Piraeus TEI, which last year was marked as first choice by 283 candidates, this year was put down as first choice by 410 candidates while 14,068 students overall competed for 142 places. – The same trend is to be found in the accounting departments of TEI, which are gaining ground among students compared to the corresponding financial departments at universities, where the subject is more nebulous. – TEI also garner an impressive number of first choices in the field of health, in contrast to the much-desired but overcrowded field of medicine. Candidates appear to (realistically) prefer the TEI subjects of physiotherapy, nursing and midwifery in Athens to the medical schools of regional universities. The TEI were not only the first, but also the second choice of many more candidates than those garnered by medical schools. – Police and military academies continue to be high in demand. In 2002, these schools were among those with the highest demand in the second (natural sciences) and the fourth (technical subjects) academic sector. – But the relative lack of interest shown in new departments raises questions. Only 11 candidates opted for the departments of geography at the Aegean University and the Harokopeion. In addition, modern departments, such as biological applications and technology at the University of Ioannina and biochemistry and biotechnology at the University of Thessaly, were spurned by candidates. Perhaps a more rational planning of new departments is necessary, with demand as a criterion, so that funds can be used more effectively.