Battling for study places

For every undergraduate place at the country’s main tertiary institutions in Athens and Thessaloniki, there are 15 applicants for transfer from outlying universities and colleges among the year’s crop of first-year students wanting to live closer to home. Many have already begun collecting the necessary documentation to justify such a move. According to Law 3027 of 2002, applications are accepted for transfers from universities abroad or in Greece between November 1 and 15. Until now, children from large families (of at least four children, although the New Democracy government has said it will change this to three children) have been granted unrestricted transfers, as have the children of terrorist victims and members of national sports teams. The only condition, of course, is that there be a tertiary institution in the town of their choice that offers the course they have qualified for. Transfers for reasons of health, disability, financial or family reasons have been subject to «quantitative restrictions.» In these cases, according to an Education Ministry circular, the receiving department specifies the number of transfers it will accept, which cannot be less than 6 percent or more than 8 percent of the total number of students accepted to the department. It is for these limited places that the fiercest battles are waged. «Most of the transfer applications are for the schools of law, physics, mathematics and medicine. Naturally, the number of applications for these schools rises accordingly when there are many corresponding schools in the provinces,» said Eleftherios Sfyridis, director of education and research at Athens University. In the 2003-2004 academic year, of the 450 transfer applications received for the law school, only 32 were accepted (6 percent of the total 533 students accepted). In the school of mathematics, 25 of the 250 applications were moved (8 percent of the total). Altogether, 419 transfers were made to Athens University, out of a total first-year population of 6,700. A similar situation occurred at the National Technical University, according to Director of Studies Ioanna Gyftaki. About 200 applications are received every year for larger departments (computer engineering, architecture, civil engineering) and 50-70 for the others. Last year at Thessaloniki University, demand skyrocketed for teachers’ college places, as many new students wanted to move there from outer areas.