Survival trumps progress

Survival trumps progress

The resignation of six members of the administrative board of the National Technical University of Athens is hardly breaking news. Ever since 2013, when the 15-member administrative boards undertook their duties at the country’s universities, very few of those now in power have seen them in a positive light. While the so-called Diamantopoulou law was approved by an impressive majority in Parliament, it later emerged that, in reality, it had never been implemented in full.

Even education ministers prior to SYRIZA’s rise to power seemed to “accidentally” forget about it. Officially, the mandates of the boards (elected bodies comprising university professors along with members of other local institutions and foreign university professors) ended on August 31. A new round of elections should have been announced if there was any desire to continue the practice. Not only does there seem to be absolutely no desire to do so, but if anything, this is a case of repulsion.

Attacks on certain board members – especially those from abroad – helped to shape, almost from the start, a picture of unwanted institutions. In short, while the final blow was dealt by SYRIZA, the bruises were already visible. “The operation of the board threatened the balance between the centers of authority that had been established for years at universities,” read the letter sent by the six members who resigned.

A change in the country’s landscape. The business section of the Sunday edition of Kathimerini on August 28 referred to Cambridge Innovation Capital – essentially the investment fund of the University of Cambridge – which raised capital amounting to roughly 88 million euros that it will use to finance startups that originate from the university itself or from the wider region of Cambridge. The primary aim of this endeavor is for the university to help students transform an interesting idea into a business or commercial product.

Two different subjects, a reflection of one reality. Interest and backwardness on the one hand, progress and risk on the other. The undermining of institutions on the one hand, meeting challenges on the other. Let us not draw the obvious conclusion that there are two worlds.

Greece also has islands of excellence, oases of research and innovation. The difference is that in Greece each step must be made silently on tip-toes, almost as if this is illegal. Look at what happened to the board members.

Amid lies and rumors, productive time is squandered and those who can excel are consumed by survival exercises. The future is continually compromised by those who cannot accept it and cannot serve it.

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