More than 2,000 university places will remain vacant next year because students who achieved grades securing them a spot in tertiary education turned down the opportunity to continue their studies as the degrees for which they were eligible were not their first choice. It emerged yesterday, 24 hours after the Education Ministry revealed the results of the university entrance exams that were taken by senior high school pupils earlier this year, that 2,521 students had decided to decline the university places they had been allocated. According to the Greek system, teenagers who have not acquired the necessary grades for their first-choice institution and course but who have achieved the pass mark, are given the opportunity of studying a less subscribed subject at another university. However, it seems that more students than usual have foregone the opportunity to enroll and obtain a degree even if it is in a subject they had not planned on studying. «We have decided not to send our child to study a course at a regional institution that would not give her serious professional prospects,» Sofia Linardou of Athens told Kathimerini. «Why should we spend so much money on a useless degree?» Linardou said that her daughter would resit the university entrance exams. It is estimated that it costs each family 10,000 euros per year to send a child to study at a regional university, where undergraduate studies last a minimum of four years. The biggest cost is renting accommodation as there is not enough room at halls of residence. Also, only 13 of Greece’s 22 universities and five of the 15 technical colleges (TEI) actually have their own dormitories. According to the Education Ministry’s figures, of the 92,426 senior high school pupils who sat university entrance examinations earlier this summer, 68,794 gained a place for themselves in a tertiary education institution, up 4.4 percent from last year’s 68,224 places.