NEWS

Teaching staff shortage and absenteeism plague Greek tertiary colleges

There are many positive and negative aspects. Among the positives are the demand for it in Greek society, and the immediate acceptance of graduates of Greek universities for postgraduate studies in leading universities abroad. The presence of leading Greek professors and graduates in all disciplines at important foreign institutes creates a good profile for our higher education. One negative side is the loss of many teaching hours due to absenteeism and other causes. The absence of teachers from classrooms, laboratories and even chairs is very negative. And the system of «seasonal» teachers allowed by Presidential Decree 407, which applies at most new universities, is extremely bad. What serious problems are Greek tertiary colleges facing? Universities are not equivalent or comparable in many respects. For many central institutions, over-enrollment is a problem. A new regional university has to deal with falling numbers due to transfers, teachers on short-term contracts, lack of building infrastructure, and departments in different cities or islands without communications. The policy of creating tertiary departments may advance regional development but it creates problems for universities. Will increased funding alone solve universities’ problems? No. A generous increase in state funding is necessary, but it’s not enough. Universities need better methods, attitudes and direction from their administrators. Staff must have permanent tenure, student numbers must decrease, and regional universities must have faculty staff, not teachers on hourly contracts. Students must attend more lectures and laboratory sessions. And we want more attention from the Education Ministry. How will changes in Europe affect Greek tertiary institutes? Harmonization of European universities will have a positive effect, if done properly. So too will student mobility and comparability of universities. Downgrading diplomas by shortening years of study or turning universities into vocational colleges will have a negative impact.