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94 universities and colleges to be closed

01 February 2013 / 19:02:59  GRReporter
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From next year, 94 universities and colleges in 12 cities in the country will be closed as provided by the code-named "Athens" plan to reform the educational system, which aims to consolidate the public educational centres throughout the country. The number of students admitted to universities and colleges for the academic 2012-2013 year is 51.4 thousand. Next year, their number will be reduced to 49.6 thousand.

The economic Panteion University, the University of Piraeus and the agricultural Harokopio University will be merged into a single university, which will be called "Adamantios Korais" and headquartered in Athens. The technical universities in Athens and Thessaloniki will be merged on the basis of the same principle too.

"A large academic map of universities and colleges has grown in the country in the last 45 years, which have not always met the scientific criteria, the needs of the economy and development. It was a weakness developed by the clientelist country," explained the Minister of Education Konstantinos Avramopoulos.

The areas that will remain without university branches are Ierapetra, Agios Nikolaos, Lefkada, Amaliada, Egeo, Argostoli, Nafpaktos, Crete, Livadia, Moudania, Veria, Naoussa and Edessa. The decision of the Ministry of Education to merge and close the educational centres has caused serious discontent in the academic community. Representatives of the local government organizations of the affected areas have also opposed the reform and stated that they are ready to start active protests in order to stop the closure of higher educational centres in their towns.

Florina’s Mayor Yiannis Voskopoulos called the reform plan a "slap" and said he would fight to the end to prevent the closure of the four branches of the University of Western Macedonia, which is expected to be merged with another university. "The government is working against the appropriateness of the region. It is using practices which we know from the past and which are against the cultural, economic and national interests of the region," Voskopoulos told Ethnos newspaper.

The supporters of the reform plan explain that the opening of a university in smaller provinces of the country in recent decades has been associated with the promises of politicians to their constituencies. University branches bring significant revenue to the municipalities in the country, which explains the large number of universities and colleges there.

According to the head of the University of Ioannina Triadafilos Abanis, the "Athens" plan has positive sides although he finds it incomplete. According to him, many universities will have serious administrative difficulties in the merger of the institutions. The head of the University of Patras George Panayotakis does not agree with the change in the name of the university represented by him to 'University of Patras - Western Greece'. "It took us 50 years to make known the name of the university. I see no reason for renaming it," he said.

The reform in the system of higher education is expected to drive 10-15 thousand students to change the city in which they study. University teachers are also frustrated because the Ministry has not informed them about the coming changes and they worry that the closure and merger of branches will become the cause of dismissals.

Tags: NewsEducationReformAthens plan
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