A step backward for our universities

Without wanting to be pessimistic, the Education Ministry’s announcement earlier this week that it intends to increase by 2,000 the number of students entering Greece’s universities makes it quite clear that the government’s much-vaunted plans to upgrade higher education are not only being halted but will probably take a couple of steps backward. There had been widespread support for the ministry’s decision – due to come into force this academic year – that university places could only be secured by students who achieved the minimum pass rate and there had also been much criticism of opposition to such measures as «anti-populist» and «a barrier to the education of the lower classes.» However, university education is by its very nature a demanding and specialist area, calling for students who already have attained a certain level of knowledge. Indeed, our educational institutions should be the breeding ground for individuals who will lead our country in all sectors – not just a place to get a certificate. The need for comprehensive restructuring and reform of our higher education system has been expressed and analyzed frequently; but this should involve essential reform, not just superficial changes and hot air from ministry level. Of course, such changes call for significant investment. Moreover, the government should accept academics’ calls to have a greater say in the planning and operation of state universities and also in the annual number of university entrants that they are to be entrusted with. After all, they are the professionals best qualified to make decisions in these areas.