Boost for graduates

Proposals to cut the red tape confronting graduates who want to have their degrees from foreign universities recognized in Greece were presented by the Education Ministry yesterday. DIKATSA, the Inter-University Center for the Recognition of Foreign Degrees, currently handles all applications by foreign university graduates’ degrees to be recognized as equivalent to those issued in Greece. It will be replaced by a new, more efficient body, said Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadouros. «The aim is to clean up the system, simplify the process and to adjust toward European standards,» said Taliadouros, presenting a draft bill on the matter. Some 12,000 graduates submit applications to DIKATSA each year to have their qualifications approved. In many cases, they cannot find work in Greece without this approval from the state body. However, the process has begun to be seen as ponderous and corrupt. In May, EU Education Commissioner Viviane Reding slammed it for being too slow in dealing with applications. DIKATSA has successfully been taken to court by several students unhappy with its refusal to recognize their degrees and, last June, was also embroiled in an alleged exam-rigging scandal. The government wants to create an Organization for the Recognition of Academic Degrees and Information (OATAP) to replace DIKATSA. The intention is for OATAP to be less bureaucratic and more speedy in its work. Applications to OATAP, Taliadouros said, will be processed in a maximum two months. Currently, some graduates wait up to two years for a response. Some 19 permanent staff and eight contract workers will be employed by OATAP. It will be able to recognize degrees from distance-learning institutes and fast-track applications from graduates who have degrees from recognized universities. Applicants can sit special assessment exams twice a year. The tests, mostly for graduates who have degrees from non-EU member states or one of the 10 countries that joined this year, will have a multiple-choice format.