Minister struggles to find university reform consensus

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou is to continue on Wednesday her seemingly doomed attempt to gain broad consensus for a university reform bill, which professors and lecturers yesterday rejected.

Diamantopoulou met with the Hellenic Federation of University Teachers? Associations (POSDEP) and the union representing lecturers at technical colleges (TEIs) on Tuesday but was unable to bridge several differences of opinions, particularly on the way that tertiary institutions should be managed. The minister is proposing that an administrative council be set up to oversee the running of each university but professors are opposed to this.

The council would be made up of each institution?s professors, a student representative and someone who has no links to the university. The body would be responsible for administrative matters and for electing a rector.

?We are against the creation of an all-powerful body that nobody can check for wrongdoing,? POSDEP secretary Evgenia Bournava told Kathimerini. ?There cannot be consensus if the bill is based on this principle. We ask for the draft law not be submitted until there has been time to find common ground.?

Diamantopoulou rejected calls for talks about the bill to be extended by three months, saying that discussions had been going on for more than a year.

The minister also met with leaders of leftist parties. However, Alexis Tsipras of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left both suggested that the minister should not submit the reform bill to Parliament without making changes.

Diamantopoulou is due to meet New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday. The minister dismissed fears the reforms would lead to students having to pay for their studies. ?There will be no fees,? she said. ?Also, from 2014, Greek students will be able to access their course material online for free.?