Rooting out university malaise

Poor teachers and slack students are covering for each other and keeping Greek universities back, the head of the government-appointed panel which has proposed a series of tertiary education reforms told Sunday’s Kathimerini. The committee led by Professor Thanos Veremis of Athens University presented its suggestions last week. Among others, it proposed that there should be a limit on the time a student can spend trying to complete his or her degree. This measure would help reduce overcrowding and put an end to the so-called «eternal» students, the panel argued. Veremis told Kathimerini that indifference from students fostered indifference from teachers and vice versa. «Eternal students avoid exposing bad professors and they then turn a blind eye on eternal students,» Veremis said. «Universities have to be restructured,» he added. «Universities make up a community that has to have principles.» The panel recommended a series of other changes that, if adopted, could herald in teaching in foreign languages and sponsorship from private firms at state universities. «Greek universities have to get organized,» Veremis said. «They have to open up to foreign countries, cooperate with other institutions, find new paths of research and become more competitive.» Some concern has been expressed that the introduction of sponsorship and private universities could have a negative effect on state universities but Veremis said it was unfounded. «Private universities are as much of a threat to state ones as a kiosk is to a giant corporation,» he said, adding that sponsors would avoid investing money in state universities given current conditions.