Patra college students lock up staff for seven hours

A judicial investigation has been launched after several academics at the Patra Technical College in western Greece, including the head of the institution, were locked up for more than seven hours inside a conference room by angry students protesting government plans to overhaul the country’s tertiary education system.

The students demanded that the college president, Socrates Kaplanis, and the other members of the administration resign in protest at the Athena scheme.

“They gave me a written statement and told me, ‘Sign it or no one will leave this room,’” Kaplanis said after he and his colleagues were released at 1.30 a.m. Friday.

He said the students had threatened to set his office on fire.

Earlier leftist students had clashed with members of PASOK-affiliated student group PASP who tried to help Kaplanis escape. Four people were taken to hospital.

Under Athena, which aims to abolish underperforming departments to cut back on state spending, the Patra college’s school of financial management will move to Mesolongi, western Greece. The department of social work is to be scrapped altogether.

Mayor Yiannis Dimaras on Friday condemned the incident but urged all sides to cooperate to prevent the scheme from affecting the college and the city of Patra.

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