Academics head for split

A group of leading university professors are set to declare their support for the government’s controversial tertiary reforms later this week, sources told Kathimerini yesterday, in a development that is expected to split higher education leaders. The professors, who support various political parties, are to give their backing to the reforms during a meeting with Education Minister Marietta Giannakou on Thursday, sources said. After the meeting, the educators are supposed to issue a statement that clashes with the stance adopted by the Hellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (POSDEP), the sources added. Thursday’s move by the academics aims is an effort to forge a middle ground between the government and educators who vehemently oppose the tertiary reforms. POSDEP opposes the New Democracy government’s plans to introduce non-state universities in Greece. Critics say the entry of private tertiary institutions will translate into less state funding for the higher education sector and prevent those who are poor from obtaining a university education. POSDEP has called a three-day strike that is expected to start tomorrow and has also warned of launching a prolonged strike starting February 5. Students are expected to march with academics in central Athens tomorrow as the weekly demonstrations against the reforms continue. Students are also still holding sit-in protests at some 300 university faculties around the country. University leaders say they are concerned that the shutdown of faculties has disrupted period for student examinations. The conservative government has stressed that it intends to push ahead with the changes, insisting the reforms will make the sector more competitive on an international level.

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