University reform

Many principled observers familiar with the structural shortcomings of Greece?s university institutions are saying that any bid for serious reform is destined to fail. Perhaps this is so, but the timing is extremely difficult and a single spark could set the entire youth movement on fire.

Crucially, no reform is feasible unless it has the blessing of the parties involved. Student factions insist on making outrageous demands including the perpetuation of a system whereby students do not have to pass their courses in order to move on to the next year (which is a basic precondition at any serious institution elsewhere in the world).

Critics who claim that reform is a waste of time explain that the status quo is protected by an extremely powerful collection of interests. In fact critics do have a point in arguing that the best that we — the state, society, each citizen — can do is help those universities and schools that are making a serious effort to escape the standard of mediocrity and corruption. Because there are some bright exceptions out there that we ought to defend, praise and encourage in every way we can.

Nevertheless, there?s something in all this which personally makes me very angry: the danger of ending up with a two-speed society. The offspring of the rich and powerful will, as always, get a chance to study in the United Kingdom, the United States or France, where they will experience a genuine academic environment.

Families that do not have the financial luxury will be condemned to send their children to a state university — a place that fails to inspire or encourage those who are keen to learn.

Of course, there is always that 5-10 percent who will find a pocket of excellence — even inside the state universities — and who will take advantage of it to move ahead. But it is very unfair and frustrating to see a society condemning the vast majority to mediocrity and misery because it does not have the courage to take on vested interests and anachronisms.

Worse still, by maintaining the present situation in our universities, we are enabling the corrupt establishment of pseudo-academic unionists and university party leaders in their search for support. Decadence leads to more decadence and strengthens the hands of Greece?s professional protesters and the champions of inaction.

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