Tension rising at universities

University professors and lecturers are planning to form crisis teams to prevent students from interrupting next week’s elections for rectors, as the situation in Greece’s tertiary education sector threatens to spiral out of control. Kathimerini has learnt that the teachers are thinking about taking the action after student groups at a number of the country’s institutions declared that they would stop the elections from taking place. Student groups representing the six departments at the Technical University of Crete said yesterday that they would stage lockouts to prevent the vote from taking place next Tuesday. Students from half of the departments at the University of Thessaly have also agreed on the same action. Seven of the nine departments at the National Technical University of Athens have already been taken over by students, as have two departments at Athens University and another at Patras University. The students, who demonstrated in central Athens yesterday, want to prevent the elections taking place as part of their protest against the government’s plans to introduce changes in the way universities are run. They are also opposed to plans for private universities to begin operating in Greece. Comments by Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis last week that private universities would help «shock» state institutions into action did not go down well with many student groups. The students have already shown they are determined to go to any lengths to disrupt campus life. Earlier this month, students at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) stole equipment belonging to the rector in response to his decision to ban notice boards bearing political posters. However, there are splits between the student groups. Panspoudastiki, a student union affiliated to the Communist Party, yesterday launched an attack against university lecturers that it said had supported the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in last year’s general election. This came after SYRIZA’s youth section had criticized Panspoudastiki for not taking part in the elections for university rectors.