Shake-up for universities

Eight academics who were given the task of finding ways to improve Greek tertiary education suggested yesterday that the country’s universities should pursue closer ties with institutions abroad, possibly leading to foreign professors teaching here. The panel, led by Professor Thanos Veremis of Athens University, presented its report after months of deliberation. Among its most radical suggestions is that Greek universities should adopt common programs with foreign institutions and that teaching should be also carried out in languages other than Greek. Going a step further, the panel proposed that theses for some courses could be written in foreign languages, thereby allowing non-Greek lecturers and professors to teach at Greek universities. The government intends to allow private universities to operate in Greece so this proposed reform may be a way of allowing state universities to keep pace with the changing landscape of tertiary education. The experts recommended that five-year courses at polytechnics and universities be given postgraduate status on a par with master’s degrees. One of the main tasks handed to the eight academics was coming up with ways of tackling overcrowding at universities. They suggested that the best way of doing this was to remove students who were failing or taking too long to complete their course work. If the panel’s recommendations are adopted, students who fail one of their core subjects four times will be expelled from the institution. Also, students are to be a given a maximum of 1.5 times their degree’s normal length to finish their studies. The eight «wise men,» as they have been dubbed, said that classes should be made smaller and there should be no more than 80 students in a lecture theater. During its investigation, the panel found that some lecturers and professors were often absent from classes. To tackle this problem, academics will have to provide a written report at the end of each semester about the material they taught over the previous six months.