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Greek academics call for revision of Article 16 prohibiting private universities

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Leading academics from local and foreign institutions have signed an open letter urging Greece’s leftist-led government to green-light the review of the Greek Constitution’s Article 16, which prohibits the establishment of private universities, describing the matter as a question of democratic principles. 

“Greece is unique in this: It is the only country in Europe, if not the entire world, where the average lawmaker does not have the freedom to regulate the status of universities in accordance with the educational, social and cultural needs of the time, as well as the priorities of the majority of the time. On the contrary, they are strictly limited by the constitution,” the academics say in the letter published in Sunday’s Kathimerini. 

The signatories claim that by going into excess detail, such as stipulating the organizational structure and public status of universities, the law effectively stifles meaningful innovation and reform.

“Having served in tertiary education for decades in Greece as well as abroad, we are in the position to have very good knowledge of the pros and cons of state and private universities,” they say. “We agree on some things while we disagree on others.

However, we are united in the conviction that regardless of what model is chosen, lawmakers must be able to adapt it to the conditions of the time… This is, in other words, a question of democracy.”

Signatories include Nikos Alivizatos (University of Athens), Nikos Eleftheriadis (University of Oxford), Ioannis Ktistakis (Democritus University of Thrace), Manos Matsaganis (University of Milan), Giorgos Pagoulatos (Athens University of Economics and Business), Christopher Pissarides (London School of Economics) and Loukas Tsoukalis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens).