OPINION

The long road to private universities

I doubt that anyone believes we could ever create in Greece the equivalent to Route 128: the concentration of electronics-related companies on the 65-mile highway surrounding Boston and Cambridge in the USA. It seems rather a utopian dream. But at the beginning of the 1980s a whole plan had been drafted foreseeing the creation of a technological park in the district of Elaiona, western Athens. And this is not the only proposal to have been made along these lines. In Crete, Patras and elsewhere significant progress has been made to lay the groundwork for realizing such a dream. Of course, there are no concrete results as yet, nothing to really stir the interest of the public or of academics, researchers and, of course, investors, without whom no good idea can become a reality. Before the launch of the recent debate about our higher education system, Education Minister Marietta Giannakou had stressed the importance of communication between universities and the labor market. But yesterday Giannakou was defending the role of private funding for universities, noting that «this is what a good state university needs.» This shift appears to demonstrate the minister’s disappointment in the efficiency of the existing system. It is quite sad when ministers feel the need to make statements of contrition. In the final analysis, even staunch believers in private university education acknowledge that such a system cannot be implemented immediately in this country, perhaps not even after 10 or 20 years. What is clear is that the current, ostensibly «state,» system generally only benefits those who can afford to pay for special treatment.