Universities urged to do better

A report submitted yesterday, just days after senior high school students finished their university entrance exams, by a state body responsible for assessing the quality of tertiary education, served as a timely reminder to the government, political parties, academics and students of the dire state of the sector. In its annual report, the Hellenic Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (ADIP) highlighted that the universities had slipped way behind in the external assessment targets that they had been set, while financial and bureaucratic problems also continued to plague the tertiary sector. «The responsibility of the state for the condition of universities today is significant,» Spyros Amourgis, the president of ADIP, a regulating body charged with the task of reviewing the quality of tertiary education, told Kathimerini. «However, we must not expect the solutions to arrive, as if by magic, from the state mechanism. The institutions themselves must take action to suggest how the situation should change.» ADIP found that just 1 percent (five of 499 university departments) have completed the external assessment process which, under a law passed in 2007, they are required to. At least 100 departments were meant to have allowed external assessors to take a look at their teaching methods by the end of last year. Fewer than 170 departments had started the internal assessment process last year, while at 260 there was no movement at all. ADIP also drew attention to the culture of, sometimes violent, resistance at Greek universities, which makes it difficult for teaching to take place. The state body also criticized the Education Ministry for allowing too many students into universities, while also denying them the right to choose their department of study. It also highlighted a failure on the part of the ministry to set up a special account to manage more than 2 million euros in European Union funds, which meant that the money never became available to Greek universities.