College ruling may be challenged

Professional groups and unions are set to mount a legal challenge against a European Court of Justice ruling last week that requires Greece to give full recognition to degrees obtained by students at private colleges. The decision was not welcomed by those involved in public education, who fear that it will marginalize their sector, but it has emerged that a number of trade groups are also against the ruling and plan to do whatever they can to prevent it from being enforced. The court’s decision means that the government has to change the law so that degrees issued by private colleges, most of which operate as franchises of foreign universities, are given the same status as those issued by public institutions in Greece. The Technical Professional Chamber (TEE) was the first to state its intentions clearly, saying that it was willing to fight the ruling in foreign courts. «Given that the whole issue concerning degrees and the professional rights that stem from them is not one that has to do with Greece but the countries in whose name they are issued, TEE is now obliged to take its legal battle to these countries,» the chamber said in a statement. TEE also said that it would not accept as members any students who had graduated from a private college. A number of other professional groups and unions have expressed reservations about the quality of education at private colleges. The situation is likely to come to a head next year, when the government will be required to change the law if it is to keep to the deadline set out by the European court. The court ruling also means that the government’s plans to regulate the private college industry, which is worth about 112 million euros per year in Greece, are now unlikely to be applied. The ruling conservatives had hoped to ensure that private colleges have certain resources before the degrees they offer can be fully recognized. Many of these colleges sprang up in the 1990s but had fallen into a legal no-man’s land and have been operating under the supervision of the Development Ministry.