Debate to begin on university reform bill

A debate on the government?s contentious university reform bill — foreseeing the independent evaluation of academics and restrictions on the length of time students have to complete their degrees — is to begin in Parliament on Monday ahead of a scheduled vote on Wednesday.

The controversial bill also foresees the creation of a council made up of eight university professors, six extra-university officials and just one student representative. The council will be responsible for administrative matters including finances, following reports of tax-dodging at certain institutions.

But the proposed legislation has divided academics with many arguing that some of the measures will compromise institutions? independence and give more power to unaccountable bodies. These critics warn that the bill, if passed, could result in some universities remaining closed or some academics launching strike action when the new year begins.

Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, who has insisted that the government is open to debate with academics on the reforms, told To Vima newspaper on Sunday that certain amendments requested by academics will be taken on board.

The government is flexible regarding the composition of the Senate and university councils, Diamantopoulou said, but there would be no wiggle room on the allocation of extra-university officials on university councils, the abolition of a university asylum law — banning the presence of police on university grounds — and restrictions on the length of degree courses.

Diamantopoulou also said she aimed to depoliticize universities.

?Parties and party-affiliated student unions cannot have a say in the operation of universities,? the minister said.