After introducing stricter criteria for entering tertiary institutions, the government plans to shift 3,000 positions from technical colleges (TEIs) in larger cities to vacant regional TEIs hit hardest by the new measure, sources said yesterday. Education Ministry sources told Kathimerini that the ministry will reshuffle student slots in 2007, helping cut positions in heavily populated TEIs located in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and Halkida. The reforms are also intended to eliminate courses that are very specialized and produce graduates who are not in demand in the job market, a source added. The Education Ministry is changing the tertiary sector in order to make post-secondary schooling in Greece more efficient. A recently introduced rule requiring students to get a grade average of at least 10 out of 20 to enter a TEI or university has resulted in some 18,000 positions left unfilled. Regional TEIs were hit the hardest by the new measure because students prefer studying in bigger cities. Regional officials have threatened to protest the reform, saying the paucity of students will hurt their economies. Education Minister Marietta Giannakou turned down a request from the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) earlier this week to implement the reform gradually and thus keep local economies from suffering. Residents from Florina in northwestern Greece plan to unfurl black flags to protest new rule’s effect on its university and technical college population. Florina had got used to some 920 post-secondary education students entering university or technical school departments there. This year, the town will have only 99 new students.