Failing TEIs may face closure

A draft law that envisages the shutting down of departments at technical colleges (TEIs) that do not attract enough students was presented to Parliament yesterday by Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos. The bill aims to satisfy the demands of many TEI presidents who fear that keeping open departments where few or, in some cases, no students attend classes could eventually put the viability of the colleges at risk. «Today, we have to look forward,» said Spiliotopoulos. «We have to plan productively with an educational logic and a social perspective. «This means we need reforms without preconceptions and narrow minds. This has to do with the viability and future of many institutions, especially in the regions.» The Education Ministry has identified some 50 TEI departments that could be shut down because of a lack of interest from high school graduates. A ministry source told Kathimerini that under the proposals tabled yesterday, colleges would be given five years to consider whether some departments should be shut down. There has been a steady decline in the number of high school students enrolling in technical colleges each year, largely as a result of the government’s decision in 2006 to prevent any pupils who score less than 50 percent in their exams from being accepted to the TEIs. Since this decision, some 45,000 places at the schools have not been filled. The Western Macedonia TEI, for instance, accepted only nine new students last year whereas it has 18 departments and has capacity for 460 students. The large number of empty places also has to do with a lack of coordination within the tertiary education sector and poor communication with senior high schools, leading to the creation of new departments that attract little interest. «If the broadening of the tertiary education sector happened with the cooperation of everyone involved, we would not have these problems now,» the president of the Patra TEI, Sokratis Kaplanis, told Kathimerini. «There is no way the attitude that ‘I do what I want when I want’ can work.»