The news that Greek state universities failed once again to feature on a list of the world’s top 200 universities, compiled by The Times, was greeted with little surprise by academics at several institutions, whose common observation was that a relative lack of state funding in Greece is to blame. «It is just impossible to compare,» Yannis Mylopoulos, the rector of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University told Skai. Mylopoulos said that universities in other countries benefit from more generous state funding and better infrastructure. The vice rector of the University of Patra, Anna Roussou, also stressed that it was unfair to compare institutions in Greece to those in the UK, US or other European countries as the Greek universities receive a fraction of the funding. The University of Athens had been an exception, making it onto the UK newspaper’s list last year – in 200th place from 247th place in 2007 – but it has slipped off the list this year. According to Kevin Featherstone, professor of contemporary Greek studies at the London School of Economics and director of its Hellenic Observatory, the problem plaguing Greek universities is not just the absence of funding but the institutions’ deep-rooted organizational problems. «The university leaderships are undermined by internal politicization, obligated to the youth wings of political parties,» Featherstone wrote in yesterday’s Kathimerini English Edition. «Any authority has been built on sand: The system cannot even prevent vandalism and theft, let alone encourage greater performance,» he said. Featherstone, who was recently appointed to the National Council for Research and Technology (ESET) in Athens, said he welcomed the Education Ministry’s recent proposals for university reform, which include changes in the way that universities are to be administered. But he also recommended the idea of a «management council,» to bring in contributions from beyond the narrow confines of the education sector.