The country’s highest administrative court yesterday opened the way for the recognition of degrees from private colleges, approving a presidential decree that will allow graduates of foreign university franchises operating in Greece to apply for state sector jobs and join professional associations. The ruling by the Council of State essentially brings Greece’s legislation into line with European Union directives introduced three years ago. According to the court’s decision, the provisions of the presidential decree should apply retroactively so that those who graduated from private colleges in the past three years can have their certificate recognized. The decision does not apply to degrees from private vocational training centers. Graduates of franchise colleges will also acquire the same right as graduates from Greek universities to sit examinations set by the Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) for positions in the public sector and to apply for membership of professional associations and guilds. The new status acquired by foreign college graduates, however, will not allow them to pursue postgraduate studies at Greek state universities. In January, an administrative appeals court ordered the state to pay a 50,000-euro fine to the owner of a private college after its degree certificates were ranked below those granted by state universities. The verdict overturned an earlier ruling by a lower court that had justified the decision by the National Academic Recognition and Information Center (DOATAP) to deny degrees from the college equal status.