OPINION

Fragmentation

Any normal person can only feel profoundly depressed at the prospect of the government’s plan to institute the University of the Peloponnese over a number of scattered campuses, bringing to the fore the issue of widely dispersed university campuses which only serve clientele relations and no educational purpose. The schools of this supposedly Peloponnese-based university will spread from Corinth, near the outskirts of Athens, to the southern frontiers of continental Greece, in Kalamata and Sparta. The fragmentation of universities aims to serve the local clientele of the ruling party’s ministers, deputy ministers and deputies whose promises echo the unforgettable pledge of the military junta: «A university for every other city, a technical university for every village.» It may also serve the petty interests of home, restaurant and cafe owners in the countryside who will readily find hundreds of new customers in the faces of these uprooted students. What are not served, however, are the goals of university education. Founding a university in a provincial town (such as Patras or Ioannina) is one thing, while the establishment of a couple of departments in every town is quite another. University study is not a cramming school for specialized education. It is a much more complex procedure of all-around scientific training and character-building for the thousands of students who constitute the nation’s future intellectuals – and not only that. This procedure cannot be carried out properly in the absence of a solid academic community for which geographic proximity is a sine qua non precondition. It is also difficult to staff these fragmented provincial universities with professors who are willing and able to meet their academic demands. Reports of existing universities in peripheral areas indicate that they are staffed with «flying professors» who reside in Athens and only spend a few days a month at their posts or fulfill their academic obligations by using contract lecturers who do not enjoy the proper salaries, rights, or prospects. Tragic representatives of a peculiar «illegal university employment» status, they live with the hope that they will one day be appointed as true professors and then «migrate» to more prestigious institutions in Athens or Thessaloniki. These are the problems that surface and thrive when political expediency prevails over the interest in education.