Greek students flock to postgraduate courses, hoping for edge in job market

More and more postgraduate courses are being offered to Greek graduates in order to meet high demand. Already 435 postgraduate courses are in operation in Greece, from which 25,000 students graduate. The increase is impressive. In 2002-2003 there were just 233 postgraduate courses with 12,000 students, that is an increase of 87 percent in four years. About 13,000 Greek students are also enrolled in postgraduate courses abroad – the majority in Great Britain – while various Greek colleges collaborating with European institutes have also jumped on the bandwagon. Greek state university courses enjoy the greatest prestige – demand is such that some candidates must pull strings to get in. The cost is not negligible – most of the courses charge fees that vary from -7,000 to -14,000 for 18 months. The Education Ministry has decided to give Higher Technical Colleges (TEI) the opportunity to organize autonomous postgraduate courses. Stringent terms have been set so that the increase in postgraduate courses does not lead to their devaluation as occurred with departments established after 1988, based on the logic that every city should have a TEI. These departments now seek students. As Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadouros explained, postgraduate courses are being restructured according to the following three main principles: * Postgraduate courses must be stringently controlled. All institutes will be forced to create a postgraduate studies regulation in order to operate courses. This consolidates the autonomy of the institutes but facilitates surveillance by the responsible ministry. * Postgraduate courses must be examined as part of the evaluation process for all institutes. * TEI departments have the option of organizing a postgraduate course, after submitting an internal evaluation report. This will enhance evaluation as those that do not evaluate will not be upgraded. The boom in postgraduate courses at universities is threatening to undermine the status of the courses themselves and that of first degree courses. The view that a postgraduate degree opens more doors in the private sector is spreading fast within the Greek community. But the damage has been done by the state sector. «If the Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization had announced that postgraduate degree holders would not be given a bonus in points collected for a position in the civil service then demand for postgraduate degrees would have been cut in half,» said a high-ranking source in the Education Ministry. «It is a fact that academic knowledge is acquired more easily than in the past. Specialization is also required. I wonder though whether all these postgraduate courses are necessary. I don’t think Greece justifies such a large number of postgraduate courses,» added a top academic, who is an economics professor. «It is quality that will be important now for every postgraduate course. There must be evaluation.»