Student movements not what they were

Student movements were born and matured during difficult times. In the past they were organizations driven by ideas. Now they are driven by interests. With the passage of time these groups – which once enjoyed a robust ideology and following – degenerated into mechanisms for distributing power within universities. To be precise, there are no real student organizations today. There is simply the empty shell of the student movement, partisan groups driven by self-serving, and often illegal, benefits. All those in the know in Greek higher education have some unethical occurrence to relate. For instance, the leaders of the student groups often barter for the election or promotion of a certain professor, seeking higher grades or even cash in exchange. Nowadays, student organizations do not represent university students and do not contribute toward upgrading the education sector. On the contrary, they are downgrading Greek higher education. In all the countries that have developed an enviable higher education sector, students have played a minimal – or even non-existent – role in the administration of their institutions. In Greece, unfortunately, the legal framework introduced by PASOK in 1982 granted student organizations a decisive role in the election of deans, professors and so on. As a result, these groups effectively regulate the operation of the country’s universities. And the outcome of all this is the current degeneration we are witnessing. The proposal by an expert committee that elections for university deans involve the participation of all students, and not only those within student organizations, would certainly help curb such unethical practices as those mentioned above. But a far more effective, and bolder, move would be to follow the example set by other countries whose education systems are truly essential and superior. When a certain strategy has proven successful elsewhere, we should not hesitate to implement it ourselves.