NEWS

Professor lashes out at reform setback

The head of a panel of academics that put together proposals on tertiary sector reforms earlier this year criticized the government yesterday for pushing back a draft bill introducing changes to universities. Professor Thanos Veremis, who led the eight-member team, told Kathimerini that he is even considering resigning if a meeting with Education Minister Marietta Giannakou indicates that the reforms agenda is likely to be canceled. «I don’t know if I have a reason to exist in this position; it has become a joke,» Veremis said. «A large portion of the university community is in favor of the necessary reforms,» he added. A draft bill introducing university reforms was scheduled to have been introduced to Parliament last week but has been pushed back to June. Sources said that the delay was the result of politically damaging unrest in the sector after primary and preschool teachers stayed off the job for six weeks over pay disputes. There are also concerns among government officials that sit-in protests by secondary school students will spread to their university peers as a result of the bill. Veremis described the government’s call for talks over the introduction of private universities as the nail in the coffin of the reforms program. «Talks on non-government universities will create general commotion even though it is a pseudo-issue,» he added. Tertiary student groups were split yesterday as to whether they should shut down universities in protest at the proposed changes.