Many students at technical colleges (TEIs) will be sent to schools in Greece’s regions rather than big cities in the future, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou assured local officials in northern Greece yesterday. TEI students are seen by many regional communities as a vital source of income and the government has been under great pressure from local officials to ensure that the colleges in rural Greece do not suffer from the dwindling numbers of students that are expected to enroll in courses over the next few years. «Next year, a very large number of TEI students from central colleges will move here,» Giannakou told officials in Kozani. The western Macedonia TEI is based in Kozani and has a department in Florina but there are fears that many spots in courses will not be filled in the upcoming academic year because of the low number of students who had adequate grades. The government has decided to impose a minimum-grade rule on all senior high school students taking university entrance exams. The new rule means that students had to achieve average grades of at least 10 out of 20 to claim a place at university or technical college. Last year, three-quarters of the students who enrolled at the western Macedonia TEI had achieved an average mark of below 10 in their exams. In Florina, only some 10 percent of the students had achieved an average score of 10 or more. Local officials want the problem to be addressed immediately. «What will happen if the reduction in students is projected over five years?» said Kozani Mayor Paris Koukoulopoulos. «If measures are not taken, some cities will be sunk.» Giannakou said yesterday that the government was committed to increasing the number of students at regional TEIs but she did not give any details about how this might be achieved. The minister also appeared to welcome an idea proposed by Koukoulopoulos, suggesting the creation of departments at regional TEIs which would exclusively serve foreign students.