Dozens of state technical college (TEI) teachers who, under a new law upgrading TEIs to university status, must have post-graduate degrees to obtain full academic titles have enrolled in Balkan universities of dubious academic standards to get their diplomas, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. A source – a TEI teacher with all the requisite credentials for a full-time professorship – said most of his underqualified colleagues who enrolled at Bulgarian, Romanian and Yugoslavian universities do not even attend the courses. «It all started about a year and a half ago, when the rumor first emerged that the Ministry of Education was planning to upgrade TEIs and that one would need a Ph.D. diploma to become a full-time professor,» the source said. «So many TEI teachers enrolled at Balkan universities, but do not attend the courses. The question is, how will they complete their studies and obtain their degrees?» TEI union spokesman Constantinos Koulouris told Kathimerini that «if such people exist, and they probably do, then they are either common criminals – that is, crooks – or naive buyers.» Teachers in the country’s five largest TEIs (Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patras and Larissa) have been on a peculiar form of strike – under which, in order to continue drawing their salaries, they have effectively staged sit-ins instead of striking officially – for the best part of a month. Their main demand is that they should be allowed to become full-time professors even if they lack Ph.D.s, or even masters’ degrees. Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, who will meet TEI union representatives today, has stressed that teachers will not be sacked even if they do not acquire their degrees in time.