OPINION

Global university

The welcome announcement of an agreement between the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and France’s Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussees (ENPC) is yet another measure of the NTUA’s achievements. University circles have noted the importance of this further step in international cooperation with such an historic and distinguished French institute for Greece’s undergraduate studies. Piraeus University is already preparing to follow suit with German and French universities. Crete University’s teacher training college has already reached an accord with the corresponding institute at the Sorbonne. The NTUA’s agreement shows that many Greek universities have maintained their credibility, a fact confirmed every year by the enrollment of top graduates in leading postgraduate programs abroad. Above all, the agreement is to be welcomed because of its value for the future. The «betrothal» – of a high-standard Greek university with a foreign one which is at least as, or even more, distinguished – provides the means for improving Greek faculties, keeping up with subject developments among the planet’s major economic powers and for valuable exchanges of professors and students. In fact, even if those academics who insist that postgraduate students are more prepared for such exchanges are right, the possibility of studying in two different countries for a first degree is an extremely valuable and irreplaceable opportunity for those who do not have the means to undertake postgraduate studies. The fact that this cooperation begins with a science institute that is also directly linked to the economy serves to provide a more direct connection between studies and the market, and therefore the labor market. As Greek university faculties struggle to improve their standards, the NTUA’s move should serve as an example for the other universities. However, it should also serve as a lesson for the State. As NTUA rector Themistocles Xanthopoulos has observed, the unbridled setting-up of faculties and departments without the necessary personnel or infrastructure is an obstacle to a qualitative emphasis that would make possible such agreements with leading schools abroad. Having more degrees of a lower standard serves no one.