OPINION

Finally, some good news on education

In what was a pleasure and honor for Greece’s education system, which is hardly in its heyday, it was announced yesterday that the MBA program at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) ranks among the best of its kind, not only in Europe but in the world. Success is the result of many factors. First of all, the program is carefully designed to meet the needs of the labor market. The aim is to cover the demand for executives by Greek companies doing business in the Balkans. Secondly, courses are taught in English which means that the school has to compete against foreign institutions. As a result, it has had to raise its criteria to meet the quality of its foreign rivals. Thirdly, universities’ graduate programs are beyond the strict supervision of the Education Ministry. This greater freedom means more flexibility. Universities can select candidates according to their own entry criteria. Moreover, they don’t follow any set curriculum. Some succeed and others fail. When it comes to postgraduate education, there is hardly any room for mediocrity. The AUEB could set the example for the Thessaloniki-based International University whose foundation will begin next year. Demand for education providers in the Balkans and the broader region is strong. The success of AUEB should be a lesson to Greece. It showed that a Greek state-owned university is able to live up to contemporary challenges and excel – provided that it is left alone to compete with free market rules. The dilemma between public and private universities becomes invalid when universities are allowed to become competitive institutions.