Students at odds over sit-ins

The National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) was propelled Friday into the frontline of a nascent struggle between students who want to shut down tertiary institutions to protest the government?s recent education reforms and those who want to keep them open.

Civil engineering students at the NTUA who went to the university to sit exams found the gates locked. The action had been taken by a small group of students even though the students at the department in question had voted to keep the university open.

The protesting students said they will not open the department until Tuesday, meaning that Monday?s exams are also unlikely to take place.

?The student council had decided the sit-in protest should end and that is why we issued an exam schedule,? said Professor Constantinos Moutzouris. ?What has happened here is undemocratic.?

At the moment, 159 university departments are being occupied by students. The ongoing protests mean that it looks unlikely that the exam period usually held in September will take place. University rectors, who were meeting in Lavrio, southeast of Athens, expressed their support for universities remaining open even though many oppose the government?s reforms.

?The students should not sacrifice their semester because of the unfair dilemmas being posed by the ministry,? Theodoros Papatheodorou, the rector at the University of the Peloponnese, told Kathimerini. ?The whole of the university community has to come together to judge the problematic changes in the legislation.?