Greece has Europe’s oldest professors

More than half the 17,049 permanent university lecturers are aged over 50, only 3.8% under 35

Greece has Europe’s oldest professors

Greece has the oldest university lecturers in Europe and the fewest aged under 35, according to a recent report by the National Authority for Higher Education (EThAAE). More specifically, of the 17,049 permanent lecturers at Greek universities, more than half are over 50.

As retirements far outnumber appointments, Greek universities have been plagued by chronic understaffing. This has served as a vicious counterincentive for young academics who migrated abroad during the financial crisis to return to Greece – with all that implies for education levels and research in the country.

According to Eurostat, in 2020, Greece (51.9%), Italy (51.2%) and Bulgaria (50%) had the highest number of professors aged over 50. The EU average is 31.80%.

In Greece, 46.6% of those over 50 are aged up to 64, with 5.3% in the 65-67 age group. In five countries (Latvia 15.6%, Slovakia 12.5%, Bulgaria 12.4%, Estonia 11.1% and Poland 10.6%), academic staff aged 65 and over account for more than 10% of the total. On the other hand, the number of teaching staff under 35 in Greece stands at 3.8%, similar to Italy (5.1%), Switzerland (8.2%) and Spain (9.5%). The highest percentage in this category is in Luxembourg (52.3%), followed by Germany (39.6%) and Turkey (36.2%). The EU average is 22.8%.

Interestingly, most of the new posts in the under-35 category in Greece are occupied by women, who represent 52.4% compared to 47.6% men. This is the only age group (the others are 35-49, 50-64 and over-65s) where women outnumber men.

The report by EThAAE noted that two interesting conclusions can be drawn from the figures recorded for Greece, particularly for the younger age groups. Firstly, it demonstrates the results of the multi-year hiring freeze at Greek universities. Moreover, the predominance of women in the younger age groups reinforces the view that higher education, with new recruitment, is trying to make up for the under-representation of women in the faculty category.

Weighing on the impact of aging staff, the secretary of the university federation, Giorgos Litsardakis, stressed to Kathimerini that “because of the reduced number of appointments in relation to needs, subjects are no longer being taught at universities.”

“On the other hand, continuity is being cut, the baton is being lost between the old and the new. Let’s say I know of a laboratory that has been ‘emptied.’ When someone is recruited to this laboratory, there will be no one to teach,” he noted.

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