Tertiary education fails test

There are too many universities and technical colleges in Greece, the standard of teaching is not up to scratch and students take too long to complete their studies, according to the findings of a study by a national tertiary education watchdog. The conclusions drawn by the state-run Hellenic Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (ADIP) will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the problems of Greek universities but will nevertheless serve as a timely reminder to Education Ministry officials and academics, who are due to start talks next month about reforms to the sector. ADIP argues that 22 universities and 16 technical colleges (TEI) are far too many for a country of Greece’s size and population. It suggests that some departments are set up with no specifically defined academic purpose and that they accept students even though they do not have the staff or facilities to teach them properly. For years, governments have found it difficult to stop the expansion of regional universities or TEIs because, in many cases, they proved to be vital to local economies as the influx of students meant that apartments would be rented easily and that money would be spent at local stores. ADIP says that the practice of scattering departments across several towns in a particular prefecture adds unnecessary expense to universities’ operating costs and makes coordination difficult. The watchdog was also critical of the fact that a large number of universities and TEIs have not submitted to independent evaluation, despite a law requiring them to do so being passed in 2005. Of a total of 507 university and TEI departments, 240 have either been through or are undergoing evaluation. The rest have not started yet.