NEWS

Fresh impetus for education talks

An attempt to agree on some major reforms of Greece’s tertiary education system begins in earnest tomorrow following a significant change over the weekend in the political balance among university lecturers and professors. The National Education Council (ESYP) is due to convene tomorrow as the process of getting teachers, politicians, unions and students to discuss possible changes to the way universities and technical colleges operate gets under way. Education Minister Aris Spilio-topoulos will deliver one of the opening speeches at the meeting. He warmed up for the task by holding talks with the representatives of the opposition parties that are willing to take part in the discussion. The Communist Party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) have declined invitations to participate. Spiliotopoulos indicated that the process that is now beginning should be unrelated to political developments. «If the Greek people have faith in New Democracy, we will press ahead and implement the plan,» he said. «If not, since this plan will be a combination of ideas, it is our hope that it will be implemented without change (by another government).» The talks will focus on a range of issues, including whether there should be entrance requirements for high school students wanting to go to university. Hopes for a constructive dialogue received a significant boost after it was revealed there will be a change of leadership at the Panhellenic Federation of University Teachers Associations (POSDEP) after elections saw the SYRIZA- and Communist-affiliated groups lose ground following a 50 percent increase in the level of participation in the election of delegates to POSDEP’s congress. The federation’s previous leadership had been seen as taking an unnecessarily obstructive position regarding its negotiations with the government.