No more ‘special social’ transfers?

In the wake of last week’s scandal concerning preferential student transfers from the provinces to prestigious Athens and Thessaloniki universities for the children of politicians, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou pledged to radically reform the transfer system. Speaking to journalists on Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting of university deans in the northern town of Veria, Giannakou said a new draft bill to be tabled in Parliament this week would set out «clear, calculable and restrictive criteria, to ensure nobody has the feeling that some people are more equal than others.» The minister said that university officials had agreed on the need for much stricter rules to be adopted in the transfers system. The scandal erupted last Wednesday, when it was revealed that Agriculture Minister Savvas Tsitouridis’s son, a student at the University of Crete, had convinced Athens Panteion University officials to accept him due to the purported security risk he faced in Crete ahead of the August Olympics. An earlier transfer bid, on health grounds, had been rejected. Tsitouridis was forced to resign that evening. The next day, it emerged that the PASOK main opposition party’s press spokesman, Spyros Vougias, had got his daughter transferred from the University of Thrace to Thessaloniki at a time when he was deputy transport minister. She had been transferred for «special social reasons,» although Vougias alleged that this was a perk enjoyed by all academic and administrative staff at Thessaloniki University. «We must create transparent and equal opportunities for all citizens, while maintaining the element of social solidarity for those who are worst off,» Giannakou said. The minister also said she had accepted a PASOK demand for all recent transfer records to be made public this week. Yesterday, university deans stressed that if the transfer system is not radically reformed, it ought to be scrapped altogether.

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