NEWS

New higher education bill targets lawlessness, standards

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Seeking to address chronic shortcomings plaguing Greek higher education, Education Minister Niki Kerameus and Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis presented an ambitious bill Wednesday that aims to improve the quality of tertiary education and eradicate rampant lawlessness on university campuses. The bill also introduces a minimum entry requirement and maximum periods for students to complete their degrees, in a bid to eliminate the scourge of so-called “eternal students.”

“The bill introduces changes that aim to deal with chronic shortcomings,” Kerameus said.

To the end of tackling the decades-long problem of lawlessness on university campuses related to outside elements including self-styled anarchists, looters and squatters, the draft legislation foresees the creation of a special team tasked with securing the country’s campuses. A total of 1,000 guards, who will not be armed, are to be hired for that purpose. They will have policing responsibilities and answer to the Hellenic Police. Chrysochoidis said the new measures were necessary to protect students, staff and facilities “from the violent activity of certain groups.”

“We are putting forward a comprehensive plan for the protection and security of university institutions,” he said. This also includes installing controlled entry and exit systems in campus buildings.

With regard to the disciplinary code for students, the bill envisages student disciplinary councils that will rule on misdemeanors ranging from cheating to criminal acts. The disciplinary penalties include written reprimands, a ban on taking part in one or more courses for one or more examination periods, temporary suspension of student status for up to 24 months and permanent expulsion.

What’s more, as part of the effort to raise entry requirement standards, among other things the bill provides for the establishment of a minimum admission base, so as to put an end to the embarrassing phenomenon of students entering university without meeting minimum grade requirements. The admission threshold will become effective immediately and concerns this year’s candidates for the national exams.

Regarding eternal students, the bill stipulated that, as of the next academic year, all students will have six or nine years to complete their degree. According to the latest data for the 2018-19 academic year, there were 282,588 eternal students out of a total of 668,734 enrolled undergraduate students.