It’s all Greek to foreign students

It’s all Greek to foreign students

The following scene comes from a not-so-distant future. Fictional (though not out of this world) as it may be, it is nevertheless based on actual reports. It has already been announced that English-language programs will soon be made available by Greek universities in a bid to attract foreign students.

Kathimerini reported on the upcoming partnership between US and Greek institutions. An American delegation is expected to visit Athens in order to explore available options. The Education Ministry has launched a similar overture toward China in the context of what Minister Niki Kerameus described as a more “outward-looking policy.”

The made-up scene goes as follows: A student from the US or China enrolls at the School of Philosophy of either the University of Athens or Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University (AUT) in order to study archaeology, history and ancient Greek literature. As of day one, the foreign student has to adapt to Greece’s academic reality: Classes have come to a halt, buildings are occupied by protesters, the walls are covered with posters and graffiti, and sanitation is poor.

This is unless, of course, foreign language courses take place in designated areas where access will only be granted to individuals with a valid access card. That would mean that foreign students would not have to adapt to Greek reality but, rather, Greek reality would adapt to the standards of foreign institutions where access to the academic environment is monitored and, as a result, protected against all sorts of antisocial and illegal behavior.

This may be a short cut to solving Greece’s negative particularities in tertiary education. A considerable number of academics and students are fed up with the existing failures and they would love to see Greek universities on an equal par with their foreign counterparts. These people are pushing for the introduction of access cards so as to make sure that entry is limited to those who have a reason to be on the premises.

Recent months have seen the emergence of a fresh initiative at AUT. The group which calls itself “Initiative of Independent Students: Yes to Open Universities” has no partisan affiliation and their key demand is the smooth functioning of the institution and purging campus of the dozens of banners and posters plastered on walls by youth party organizations. Here are students fighting for a “normal” academic life, waging their own battle for a more outward-looking university.

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