More than 98,000 senior high school students around Greece will begin their exams this morning, hoping they can do well enough to secure a much-sought-after place at university, as academics step up their demands for greater autonomy in tertiary education. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met yesterday with the rectors of Greece’s 22 universities to discuss the problems facing their sector. Several rectors told Kathimerini that they thought the meeting was «productive.» Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, who was also present at the meeting, said the two sides were in agreement on a number of issues. «Preserving quality at universities; making more of cooperation with foreign universities; putting Greek talent abroad to better use – these are directions that will give new life to our universities,» Giannakou said. The main point stressed by the rectors during the talks was that they would like greater independence from the state on academic, financial and administrative levels. «The self-administration of universities is a defining issue – the No. 1 problem,» said Georgios Babiniotis, the rector of Athens University. Universities want to be able to earn income from sources other than state funding, such as sponsorships, and be able to spend this money as they see fit and with less bureaucracy. But the rectors asked the prime minister to consider increased state funding for universities as well.