EU censure over degrees

The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General Yves Bot has called for Greek authorities to be condemned for refusing to recognize degrees acquired from branches of foreign universities based in Greece, it was revealed yesterday. «The standard of a degree can only be judged on the basis of the laws of the member state that issued it,» Yves Bot said in his recommendation to Europe’s top court. European legislation simply stipulates that the largest part of the studies undertaken for the degree course are carried out within the EU, Bot said. The court’s decision on the case, which was prompted by appeals lodged by 37 people, is expected within the next two months. If the court accept’s Bot’s recommendation, this could signal relief for thousands of students struggling through a bureaucratic maze to gain official recognition of their degrees. The prosecutor described as «illegal» the fact that a state authority has the right to judge the adequacy of degrees from foreign universities; this right is the preserve of the authorities in the country where the universities are based, he said. If member states had the right to selectively recognize certain degrees based on where the studies were undertaken «this would throw into doubt the very principle of mutual recognition (of degrees),» he said. According to Bot, so-called franchise colleges are fully in keeping with the spirit of the European Commission’s Erasmus student exchange program (that allows students in the EU to complete part of their studies in another country). There are a total of 15 colleges linked to foreign universities in Greece, 10 of which are members of the Hellenic Colleges Association (HCA). Some 25,000 students have graduated from them since 1989. «This extremely positive development would resolve an issue which has concerned thousands of young people,» HCA President Constantinos Karkanias told Kathimerini.

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