University reform talks ‘not over’

Planned reforms to the tertiary education sector will be subject to further debate, the government said yesterday, just a couple of days after university rectors said they were unwilling to negotiate based on the proposals the Education Ministry had put forward so far. The government’s reform program is seen leading to an overhaul of the way that universities are run, which would include bringing in independent assessors to check on the institution’s boards and rectors. However, during a meeting last weekend the rectors decided unanimously to reject the government’s plans, insisting that universities should be allowed to run themselves, independent of government or any other kind of oversight. However, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou insisted that this would not be the end of the discussion. «We will produce a second and third consultation document until we arrive at the final text of the draft law,» she said on Monday night, adding that the bill would not be tabled in Parliament until February next year, giving students and academics time to consider the planned changes. «If a dialogue does not begin soon in universities, technical colleges (TEIs) and research centers, we are going to miss yet another chance.» Speaking at an event organized by the Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME), Diamantopoulou expressed exasperation with the argument put forward by some rectors that universities should be allowed to manage their own affairs. «The way that universities have been managed so far shows that it is not working,» she said. «For example, some 600 postgraduate programs have been created with no checks.» The minister added that the government has a right to ask universities to provide information about its staff, including the number of hours they work and whether the institutions employ the sons or daughter of professors. «We are not denigrating the universities – they should be the ones pointing out chronic failures such as cases of nepotism.»

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