EU criticizes Greek education

The Greek education sector is in need of fundamental reform, the European commissioner for education said yesterday, as EC figures showed that a large proportion of Greek students attend universities abroad. «The higher education sector in Greece is still in need of essential reforms in educational curricula, funding and governance,» Jan Figel said yesterday in response to a question by New Democracy Euro Deputy Costis Hadjidakis. «The changes must be carried out through the coordinated action of all sides involved in the process,» Figel added. Meanwhile, a Commission report revealed that 8.5 percent of Greek higher education students attended foreign universities in 2002-2003. This figure is nearly triple the EU average of 2.9 percent of students attending universities abroad. On the other hand, only 2.2 percent of the students at Greek universities are foreigners, as opposed to a 6.2 percent EU average. «The current system is not only off-putting to foreigners wanting to study in this country but it is also unwelcoming to Greeks,» Hadjidakis said. The Euro MP also remarked upon the hefty bill incurred by parents sending their children to Greek universities. At 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), it is among the steepest in the EU. In a related development, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou yesterday refused to back down on proposed changes introducing the stricter assessment of professors and institutions. «The government will not stop because some people do not like the idea of assessment,» Giannakou said. The minister also stood by reforms raising the student entry level for universities and technical universities (TEIs). «The government did what it had to do to bring TEIs to the level of higher education,» she said.