Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou said yesterday that the government had granted operating licenses to 30 private colleges while another 10 had their applications rejected. The new colleges, most of which aim to operate in Greece as franchises of foreign universities, will be able to start registering students for the new academic year in the fall. The development was hailed as «the beginning of a new era» by Constantinos Karkanias, the chairman of the Hellenic Colleges’ Association (HCA) which has been lobbying for the right of foreign colleges to operate in the Greek market. «Now colleges officially constitute a third choice for higher education, after Greek and foreign universities,» Karkanias told Kathimerini. Karkanias added that the development brought with it «huge responsibilities» for private colleges and for the ministry, noting that the former needed to upgrade the quality of their teaching while the latter had to «fill the gaps in existing legislation.» It was unclear whether he meant provisions governing the operation of colleges or the recognition of degrees issued by these institutions on the same level as degrees from Greek universities. As regards the 10 colleges that failed to secure operating licenses, two had retracted their applications, while the other eight failed to fulfill the criteria for qualification as outlined in a government decision. Sources told Kathimerini that some of the colleges had failed to submit letters of guarantee with their applications. Apart from fulfilling criteria aimed at guaranteeing a minimum standard of quality, each company planning to set up a private college is required to submit a letter of guarantee to the tune of 500,000 euros for each college.