University reform still on agenda

Significant changes will be made to the university sector, Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis told Kathimerini, even though the government came up against vociferous opposition when it unveiled the reforms during its last term in office. Stylianidis said that the ruling conservatives intend to press ahead with plans to table an education reform bill that will pave the way for private universities while creating a framework for more independent and public universities with increased internal assessment. Mindful of the student and teacher demonstrations against the reforms that were a thorn in the side of his predecessor Marietta Giannakou, Stylianidis insists that the changes will not be forced through. «Our aim is for the reforms to be carried out in a calm climate, for discussion to be at the forefront and for there to be a spirit of openness,» the minister told Kathimerini. The government’s efforts to open up the tertiary education sector to private universities looks set to be overtaken by events as France’s Paris-Sorbonne University has already begun looking for partners in Greece to offer postgraduate courses to Greek students. Stylianidis said that the government is following the latest developments with «great interest» and aims to soon bring Greece in line with European legislation, which requires the market for university degrees to be more open. He did not set a specific date for changes. However, the minister underlined that the government wants to ensure that there is some way of checking the quality of institutions and degrees on offer to students. «You cannot certify an educational institution with the same process applied for a commercial business,» said Stylianidis. «Education is not a commercial good. There must be a process of strict assessment.» He said the Education Ministry would be «aggressively» involved in the effort to develop an evaluation system for private colleges and universities.