End of an era

What purpose does it serve to have an tertiary education entrance system that allows a candidate to register at a university faculty with a grade of 1.53, when 20 is the maximum and 10 is the pass mark? Since yesterday, this has been the question people have been asking those in charge of the country’s education system – politicians and academics. This case (albeit exceptional) of a candidate being accepted into the faculty of German philology with such a scandalously low examination score average indicates all too clearly the degree to which the current university entrance system has diverged from whatever its original goals might have been, and marks the sad end of an age that all of us would definitely like to forget. At least as of next year, an attempt will be made to take some tentative step towards averting a complete breakdown of the system, since candidates will have to achieve at least the pass mark in the entrance exams in order to be accepted into the country’s universities and technical colleges. That isn’t enough, but at least it is a step towards preserving at least some semblance of dignity in the education system. At the same time however, something must be done about fundamental parameters of structural breakdown in some tertiary institutions. For example, how is it possible to upgrade technical colleges (TEI) in practice when only half of the 32,000 students accepted had scored at least the pass mark and when in nine TEI faculties not even the top entrants scored a pass mark. This means that, on the basis of the criteria to be applied next year, no one will be accepted, although 2,300 were this year. Shouldn’t the state do something to restore the reputation of these institutions? Policies are, above all, decisions that need to be made. Will Greece’s tertiary institutions produce true graduates? If the answer must be «yes,» then what’s needed is a different educational policy and entrance system, as well as different measures. The current mess is an indication that the goal is more likely to implement a «regional development» policy, in which the main concern is to spread tens of thousands of young people around the towns in each prefecture in order to subsidize the economies of local communities by attending tertiary institutions of questionable worth. But that removes any prospect of producing the modern professional potential this country so sorely needs.