Mayors from 38 cities across the country are threatening protest action against the government if the Education Ministry tightens requirements for entry into the country’s tertiary education institutions. The ministry has upped the minimum grade to enter universities and tertiary technical colleges (TEI) to 10, a move that could disqualify thousands of students from entering TEIs. This will result in lower demand and the possible shutdown of TEI branches in the country’s smaller towns and cities, the mayors are arguing as they call for a loosening of entry standards. The threats of protest action have come about despite reassurances from Education Minister Marietta Giannakou that the new criteria will not result in the merging or shutting down of TEI branches. According to the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), of the 40,000 students who entered TEIs in 2005, some 15,000 had marks below 10 on a scale of 0-20. Of the 15,000, the great majority (14,630) got into TEIs that were located outside the large city centers. Officials from towns and cities see the establishment of a TEI branch as a means of invigorating their community, particularly during the winter months. In February, sources told Kathimerini that municipal authorities had turned up the heat on getting their own TEI branch as local elections scheduled for October approach. In the two-year period 2004-05, the Education Ministry received 150 applications from various local authorities around Greece for the establishment of new departments in their area.