University reform meets strong resistance
Despite the government’s much touted ambitious plans to reform higher education, they have stalled mainly due to political considerations and the opposition of trade unions.
In contrast to the current situation, the reforms in 1982 proceeded without much reaction because they coincided with the political context of the time and the air of change ushered in by a politically strong government.
However, since then, any substantive changes that have been attempted met with strong reactions, which eroded the government’s reform agenda out of fear of the political cost.
The same story seems to be playing out this time around with the reforms being promoted by the Education Ministry.
A case in point is the issue of security on university campuses. Despite the December 15 deadline set by the Education Ministry for universities to set up their departments of security and protection and draft security plans, not much has moved ahead.
While universities have set up the departments of security and protection, Kathimerini understands that few have advanced with their security plans, which include the installation of cameras and turnstiles, which are a “cause of war” for student factions and the main opposition parties.
The rectors claim that the plans are very expensive and need to be studied. Adding to the confusion, the rectors are passing the buck of responsibility regarding the security issue to the government.
Although most of them do not want university police, they have not refrained from criticizing the Education Ministry for “pushing us to promote a reform project at a time when it has frozen the formation of the university police.”
Another point of strong resistance is the way universities are run. Academics do not want to give administrative responsibilities to a new body other than the rector, such as the government-promoted council, as they believe it could compromise the political legitimacy of rectors. Others highlight the transactional relationships that could develop between candidate rectors and voters.