One in three candidates from secondary school, a total of 25,014, and two in the three (10,584) from vocational high schools (EPAL) will not partake in higher education this year, according to the results οn Friday of Greece’s university admission exams.
It was the first year the minimum grade to enter university was implemented as part of the government’s stated aim to raise academic standards.
At the same time, Education Minister Niki Kerameus said that a three-step plan is being launched to address discrepancies created by the new system, as 17,762 positions in university departments were left vacant.
Some university departments have very few admissions – even in the single digits. Indicatively, about 100 departments have less than 20 entrants while not a single high school candidate was admitted to the Architecture Department at Xanthi University.
The plan will seek to rearrange the academic map of 450 higher education departments around the country.
The ministry has asked the universities to submit proposals for the reorganization of their departments by the end of September. The aim is to establish as many new departments to replace those that will be abolished. Furthermore, the National Higher Education Authority will make its proposals depending on the needs of the labor market.
The Education Ministry is also boosting public vocational training schools (IEK) with financial and academic means.
According to Friday’s results, a total of 92,090 candidates took part in higher education exams and 63,239 candidates were admitted to the universities and colleges of the ministries of National Defense, Tourism and Citizens’ Protection.
Before the minimum threshold was introduced, students gained entry to universities almost regardless of their exam performance.
Kerameus hailed rising university standards that will ultimately rub off on students.
“We no longer have the phenomenon of people gaining admission with grades of 1, 2 and 3,” she said.
“Our young people have a way out and a new outlook,” she insisted, adding that “students will get what they need from a university education which will also help them professionally.”
However, the results drew a scathing response from opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who bemoaned that many students won’t get a university education, referring to a “massacre” and “the indifference” of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.