Degree recognition scam probed

The complex state system for the recognition of degrees from foreign universities was in turmoil yesterday following claims by Education Minister Petros Efthymiou that ministry employees were involved in exam-rigging. Efthymiou suspended a senior official in the Inter-University Center for the Recognition of Foreign Degrees (DIKATSA), which holds the exams for foreign university graduates seeking state recognition of their qualifications, for alleged breach of duty and made a formal complaint to judicial authorities. A probe is now under way. «The ministry, DIKATSA’s board, the judiciary and the police are working to fully clean out these sources of disease,» Efthymiou said yesterday, in response to an attack by opposition New Democracy, which demanded his resignation. Efthymiou said legislation passed last year to overhaul the DIKATSA exam system «introduced new security checks that delivered a decisive blow to rackets functioning within, and outside DIKATSA.» According to a complaint made to Efthymiou – and forwarded to Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis – by DIKATSA’s chairman, Professor Giorgos Leontaris, and Professor Alkis Costakis, who was responsible for the exams for medical graduates, at least 32 candidates’ papers during the April exam for medical graduates were tampered with. Some had answers added on, while others had not been signed by exam supervisors. A further 25 papers had been removed and were later found hidden under pieces of furniture in the DIKATSA offices. Efthymiou suspended the head of DIKATSA’s administration department, Ioulia Efstathiou, who will appear before a ministry disciplinary committee to answer charges of breach of duty.

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