Rectors to study university bill

University rectors began gathering in Volos, central Greece, on Friday to discuss over the weekend the tertiary education reforms proposed by the government, some of which are opposed by the academic community.

The Cabinet approved a draft law aimed at boosting the quality of teaching at state universities by streamlining procedures and boosting assessment following a late evening session on Thursday.

Without giving specific details, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou described the proposed reforms as ?major changes to higher education, which is the real engine of the Greek economy.? The minister stressed, however, that academics? freedom of expression would not be curbed by the reforms.

Several academics have expressed opposition to some of the provisions of the bill, chiefly the proposal that independent assessors be brought in to state universities to check on the institutions? boards and rectors.

The bill is to be submitted to a consultation process involving government officials and academics this coming week before being submitted in Parliament for another debate and then put to vote.

One of the provisions of the reform bill is designed to put an end to the tendency of some students to prolong their studies by not completing courses in some semesters and resitting them at later date, giving rise to the term ?eternal student.? Diamantopoulou?s bill will see students who do not complete two terms in a row being thrown out of their universities.

The proposed law will also allow students to finish their degrees in three, rather than four, years.

The bill also foresees the creation of a nine- or 15-member council made up of each institution?s professors, one student representative and someone who has no links to the university. The council will be responsible for administrative matters, including checking the institution?s finances, and for electing a rector.

According to sources, the draft law also calls for the funding of universities, which are all public institutions, to be linked to certain criteria, the details of which are not yet known.