Minister: Universities in a mess

Greek universities are in such a sorry state that their graduates may eventually find that their degrees are worthless, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou admitted in an interview yesterday, while hinting at a need for sweeping reforms. Ahead of yesterday’s tabling of a bill that will make it much tougher for students to get transfers from the provinces to prestigious Athens and Thessaloniki universities – in the wake of a scandal last month involving politicians’ children – Giannakou told Skai radio that tertiary education in Greece is «in a sad state, by modern standards and compared to developments in Europe.» «We must take into consideration the fact that, if we continue with such policies, our degrees will cease to be recognized,» she said. «This is mainly a matter of educational policy, not so much social policy.» «It appears that the only thing that concerns Greeks is to get a [degree], and not to obtain an education,» Giannakou added. She also criticized the system whereby student attendance is not obligatory for the majority of courses in many departments. «I cannot understand why… in some departments five people should be observing an experiment while another 200 are drinking coffee and thinking that they can get their degree.» Speaking to Kathimerini, Thessaloniki University Dean Ioannis Antonopoulos agreed that students at Greek universities were not learning enough, but effectively blamed the problem on insufficient state funding. «The situation is problematic,» he said. «Nobody in particular can be blamed, except, perhaps, for the shortages in material and technical infrastructure in relation to the number of students.»