Reforms in academia

University rectors appear committed to significant reform of the state universities, agreeing on most of the proposals already advanced by the government’s own commission of experts. The rectors’ report will be submitted to the plenary meeting of state university rectors on February 17. Kathimerini has seen excerpts of the report. The rectors’ report calls for the greater autonomy of state universities, notably in deciding the number of students to be accepted each year and in determining entry criteria. A major complaint of university administrators has been that, in many academic departments, students without the necessary qualifications were accepted. Until now, university entry has been determined by country-wide examinations held at Greece’s high schools on uniform topics decided by the Ministry of Education. The rectors’ report will make it easier to appoint faculty of foreign institutions as visiting professors. They also make it clear that they want outside input in the appointment and promotion of faculty. University rectors also want to put an end to «permanent students» who enjoy the privileges of enrollment at a university without attending classes or making progress toward a degree. There have been many cases of people registered as students for well over a decade. In the 2004-05 academic year, the so-called «permanent students» at all Greek universities numbered 144,668, while those who made regular progress numbered 171,245. The proposal calls for students in four-year courses to graduate within six years of matriculation, while in schools requiring longer attendance (e g. five years in Technical University departments and six years for medical schools) students will be given an extra three years to graduate. A proposal that is certain to rouse the ire of many students is that of reducing their role in electing professors. Currently, student organizations, most of them party-affiliated, appoint electors who participate, alongside staff representatives, in such elections. Finally, the rectors’ committee proposes the gradual abolition of the single textbook for each course. Students will still not be required to purchase their books.

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