Rectors threaten to close universities over mobility plans

University rectors suggested on Tuesday that they would close the country’s higher education institutions indefinitely if the government goes ahead with a plan to put 1,765 administrative staff into a mobility scheme where they could face dismissal from the public sector.

During an emergency session, the rectors called on the government to revoke its mobility scheme plans “so that institutions remain open.”

The rectors disputed the Education Ministry’s figures, claiming instead that universities are understaffed by some 2,500 employees and should be recruiting rather than dismissing employees. A ministry official accused them of “distorting” the real needs of universities. The rectors also rejected a government demand for them to cut their budgets for the coming academic year by 15 percent.

Managers at the country’s universities had been asked to compile lists of surplus staff for induction into the mobility scheme but they have failed to do so. The ministry is now expected to draft a list of 1,765 administrative staff, though it remains unclear what criteria will be used to select them.

Meanwhile Themis Kotsifakis, the head of the union of secondary school teachers (OLME), whose members are on strike this week over the government’s mobility scheme, called on Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos for a dialogue, possibly on television. A source said the ministry’s leadership was open to dialogue, and had met with Kotsifakis earlier this month, but did not respond explicitly to his overture.

Participation in the teachers’ strike dipped to 80 percent from 90 percent on Monday, according to OLME. The ministry put the participation rate on Tuesday at around 50 percent.

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