Ministry plans to increase university academics’ working hours

After increasing the working hours of secondary school teachers in order to cut down on the bill for substitutes, the Education Ministry is planning to make university educators spend as much as 50 percent more time teaching in a bid to make up for sliding staff numbers, Kathimerini understands.

The plan is expected to face strong opposition from faculties at Greek universities, which are already expecting to see the number of lecturers drop by 10-15 percent within the next three years as new appointments have been frozen since January 2012 and retirees and others who leave cannot be replaced.

There are also concerns that specialized academic fields may be left with inadequate teaching staff. The quality and quantity of research that universities are able to carry out will be affected too, critics say.

“We are not focusing on the increase of lecturers’ weekly working hours,” the head of the federation of university teachers’ unions, Stathis Efstathopoulos, told Kathimerini. “We are focusing on the likelihood that the range of subjects taught will shrink due a lack of educators in specialized fields.”

He said that he will request a detailed staff and class list from all institutions in order to gauge how the change may affect them.

“There is no point in saying ‘Let’s make university staff work more’ because a historian cannot teach chemistry and an economist cannot teach biology,” Eugenia Bournova, a professor and board member at Panteion University, said.