Private college ruling snubbed

Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday failed to rule out the possibility that the government would challenge a court decision that authorities can no longer ignore postgraduate degrees granted by private colleges in Greece that are affiliated with foreign universities. Earlier this week, the First Instance Administrative Court in Athens ruled that the National Academic Recognition Information Center (DOATAP), which decides whether degrees from foreign institutions can be recognized in Greece, had no right to snub degrees awarded by private colleges. DOATAP bases its reasoning on the fact that part of the studies for these degrees takes place in Greece but the court said this was not a valid argument. The court ruling would seem to heap more pressure on the government to ensure that private colleges are given full recognition, at a time when the European Union is also pressuring Greece over the matter. However, Spiliotopoulis appeared unmoved. «As a rule, we do not comment on Greek justice’s rulings, especially in this case when it is a decision by a court of first instance whose reasoning we will examine more closely,» said the minister. «But clearly there is a long way to go before this decision is implemented.» One of Spiliotopoulos’s predecessors, Marietta Giannakou, also questioned the decision. «I have seen some court decisions that are strange, to say the least,» she said. «I do not want to criticize justice, but nobody is above criticism.» The ruling was also slammed by the leader of the Coalition of the Radial Left (SYRIZA), Alekos Alavanos, who said that it breached Article 16 of the Constitution, which only recognizes state institutions in the tertiary sector. However, the president of the Hellenic Colleges Association, Constantinos Karkanias, said the ruling was a further sign of the pressure that the government is now under to change the law on private colleges. «Apart from the decisions of European courts, the latest ruling gives new momentum to our issue,» he said. «The blows to the system are now being struck by the Greek courts as well.»

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