More than six thousand students and academics marched through the centre of Athens last night to oppose government plans to reform the country’s higher education system and allow private universities to operate in Greece.

The protests reflect the rising tension over the reforms proposed by government, which would break a major taboo in Greece by allowing private universities to operate under state supervision and to issue state-recognized degrees. Academic staff began a three-day strike Wednesday, and have threatened open-ended strikes from next week. State primary and secondary school teachers held a sympathy work stoppage. The protest has become a weekly march to the Greek parliament against the planned reform. The protesters vowed to keep coming back until the bill was scrapped.
The Australian reports:

The protests have crippled the country’s tertiary education system, with more than 300 university departments closed due to student sit-in protests against the bill before the busy February exam period. “I do not care if I miss my exams because of these protests,” student Marina Iosifidou said. “There is a higher goal here and that is to keep state education in public hands and cost free.”

Maybe this student and her fellow protestors should think twice before rejecting the option of allowing private universities to operate in Greece. After all…they need them!


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Greek higher education is very dependent on the UK higher education system, having over 20,000 students in the UK (see table above). Here, students pay (high) tuition fees to be able to attend higher education, which they cannot get in their own country. In addition, Greece sends about 20,000 students to other countries in the EU, making it the largest importer of higher education in Europe. Maybe allowing other (private) universities in the country isn’t such a bad idea after all…

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