NEWS

No compromise over education

Despite violent clashes between protesting students and riot police in central Athens yesterday, the government insisted that it would not go back on its planned education reforms which include the introduction of private universities. Police in Athens blamed student organizers for not marshaling their rally properly and allowing a group of some 30 anarchists to join the protest and lead attacks on banks, cars and stores in the city center. Four banks, six cars, two stores and the Titania Hotel on Panepistimiou Street were damaged during the rampage, police said. Several student groups had organized the march to protest against the changes that the government wants to make to tertiary education. They are particularly opposed to plans to allow private universities to operate in Greece. Some teaching staff are also against the plans. The government insists that it will not be put off by these protests as it feels that it has the backing of a substantial section of students and teaching staff. New Democracy is also buoyed by the fact that it believes it has the support of PASOK over many of the reforms. «The government held a long dialogue on education and allowed many viewpoints to be heard,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. The ruling conservatives aim to soon make public their draft law on changing the way universities operate in Greece. «We accept that there are some students and university employees who do not want any change,» said Education Minister Marietta Giannakou. «But we know that changes need to be made. Our universities and students could and should be able to stand up to the best academic standards in Europe.»