Students who have overstayed the length of their course can be found at most Greek universities but sources told Kathimerni yesterday that despite an imminent shake-up in higher education, so-called «eternal students» will get plenty of leeway to finish their degrees. The government has given a committee of eight top university academics the task of devising ways of changing practices at Greece’s higher learning institutions. One of the panel’s key tasks is to eradicate the practice of students extending their studies indefinitely. Last year, the National Statistics Service found there were more than 144,000 students who had extended their university studies beyond their course’s length, compared to some 171,000 who were progressing normally. Under the committee’s proposals, students who have been enrolled for more than six years will fall into the «eternal student» category. Sources indicated that, rather controversially, these students will be given another six years to finish their studies. As for new students, the panel suggested those taking a course which normally last four years should be allowed a maximum of six years to complete their studies. Students taking a six-year course should be given up to nine years to finish, the experts said.