Scramble for technical colleges

As the government gets ready to push through major reforms in the education sector, municipal authorities around Greece have flooded the Education Ministry with requests for their own branch of a tertiary institution, sources told Kathimerini. Officials from towns and cities around the country see the establishment of a branch belonging to a tertiary technical college (TEI) as a means of helping breathe life into their community, particularly during the winter months. Sources said, however, that European Union funds that had been used for the decentralization of tertiary institutions in the past have run out, while it is growing harder to justify the creation of more TEI departments on academic grounds. Municipal authorities have turned up the heat on the issue as local elections scheduled for October approach. In the two-year period 2004-05, the Education Ministry received 150 applications from various local authorities around Greece for the establishment of new departments in their area, a source said. Councils are trying to make use of old buildings, such as abandoned military barracks or defunct hotels, to house the prized TEI departments. Applications sent to the ministry are accompanied by reports that explain how the economy of the local community can contribute to the students’ learning experience. The competition to draw students, however, is set to increase in coming years as the government is currently doing the groundwork to prepare for the opening of private universities in Greece. Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadoros said in an interview with Kathimerini English Edition that the necessary changes to the constitution will be completed in 2008. “From this point onward, a law will need to be voted which will outline the procedure, the terms, the conditions and the criteria relating to the establishment of private non-profit universities. This I believe will take place in 2009,» he said. (Editorial Page 2, 3)

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