Academics warn of action if reform bill passes as is

Parliament is preparing to vote on the government?s contentious university reform bill but academics from Thessaloniki warned Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou that lecturers and professors could take industrial action if she does not make amendments to the draft law.

Aristotle University rector Yiannis Mylopoulos and his three deputies wrote to the minister expressing concern about the circumstances under which the academic year is due to start next month. They said that the dire financial conditions are likely to be exacerbated by the draft law.

Among other things, the proposed legislation aims to introduce a new form of university administration, independent evaluation of academics and restrictions on the length of time students have to complete their degrees.

The bill foresees the creation of a council made up of each institution?s professors, one student representative and someone with no links to the university. The council will be responsible for administrative matters including finances, a timely subject in the wake of revelations about tax dodging at the University of Ioannina.

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 a later date. Instead, students who do not complete two terms in a row would be thrown out of their universities.

However, the Aristotle University academics argue in their letter that some of the measures will compromise institutions? independence and pass more power to unaccountable bodies. ?This dysfunctionality is likely to upset the smooth running of the institutions and undermine academic activity,? the rector and his deputies argued.

They suggested that some universities might remain closed or some academics could go on strike when the new year begins. ?No reform can succeed without the consent and participation of those meant to be implementing it,? they said.