Education costly but inefficient

Greece is among the European Union member states that spend the most on state tertiary education but has one of the EU’s least efficient systems, according to a report by an economic committee of the European Commission seen by Kathimerini. Greece puts 1.4 percent of its gross domestic domestic product into state universities and colleges, above the EU average of 1.2 percent and not so far behind top spender Finland, with 1.7 percent of GDP, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Britain. But unlike these northern European countries, Greece’s investment is not paying off. The report ranks Greece 13th in the EU as regards the effectiveness of its spending on tertiary education and third from last in human resources management in this sector. Greece also ranked last in terms of the effectiveness of its assessment of universities – unsurprisingly, as an evaluation system was only introduced in 2005. One of the burdens on the Greek system, according to experts, is the increase in the number of students entering university education. Greece’s student-to-lecturer ratio is the second largest in the EU, after Slovenia, with 31 students to every one academic. This is believed to have fueled indifference among many university undergraduates, adding to the ranks of the so-called «eternal students» who extend their studies indefinitely at the expense of the system. According to Markku Markkula, a Finnish academic and former politician, who is to attend a conference being organized by the Panhellenic Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (POSDEP) in Athens next Friday, Greece could improve its education sector immeasurably through a shift in strategy. «The education sector can only start yielding better results when it is combined with research and development,» he said. On Tuesday, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou heralded a raft of proposed reforms to the education sector, ranging from changes to the way that teachers are hired to the abolition of an entrance exam law that requires students to gain a minimum pass mark of 50 percent in order to matriculate at university or college.

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