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The Greek phenomenon of the "eternal student"

13 November 2010 / 10:11:09  GRReporter
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The phenomenon of the "eternal student" is widespread in Greece. And while in the country there are more universities than in France, this does not mean that the number of graduates is also as high. On the contrary, Greece is in the last place among the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, because only about 10% of the students enrolled to study higher education manage to graduate. And while the government is trying to make reforms, students and teachers went on strike against the bill, but also to  "warm up" for the celebration of November 17.

Acording to the report of the Independent Office of ensuring the quality of higher education* among the best practices that the Greek universities follow is trying to attract foreign teachers to update their undergraduate programs, to participate in research programs in collaboration with foreign universities, but also the fact that new technology is becoming more and more popular in the daily life of teaching and the Internet is used both for the holding of lectures, but also in research studies. The same report shows that the "holes" in the educational system are also a lot:

- Unclear objectives for the human resource development - it is doubtful whether the bign number of students who graduate certain majors will be able to find work and this questions the rationale for the existence of many of the higher education faculties

- Geographically dispersed faculties of universities - there are separate courses that are located on an island or in a remote town in the province. This decentralization is not justified by qualitative criteria, while coming out very expensive, creating problems with the functioning of these departments and there is a lack of teachers and infrastructure

- Huge number of facultis and of curricula - there faculty which are not called with the name of the scientific area, which they teach to their students at undergraduate level, and can not focus in a certain direction, they have no clear objectives.

- A large number of universities as compared with the population, having in mind that Greece has more universities than France

In particular, the editors of the report highlight the need to link more universities with the communities, and curriculum with the development of the economy. Besides the fact that many students enter university, compared with the country's population, but they are also not allocated properly to the majors - there are some popular majors and others in which there are almost no students. The problem is the fact that it is not mandatory to attend lectures and very few students attend, giving importance and only appearing  for the exams. The Independent Ofice for quality of education recognizes that the presence at theoretical classes should become mandatory.

Another downside of the Greek universities is that they are struggling to retain excellent students for master degrees and PhD, as they do not stimulate them and give no scholarships, and as a result of that students are going abroad.

In relation to the problems which are considered to affect students directly is that a large percentage of students are late in completing their education and the equipment in the labs is old or inadequate and also insufficient and outdated are the university buildings, which sometimes are even not efficiently used. The experts who drew up the assessment report for the higher education institutions takes into account the need to be appointed on full-time positions the faculty for theoretical lessons, but also for lab exercises in order to have some consistency in teaching. Insufficient are also the administration officials in order to engage in educational and research programs, and the heavy bureaucratic procedures for the appointment of teachers are discouraging for attracting quality candidates.

At the same time teachers express their opinion that the new draft of the Education Ministry will further reduce the academic staff and remove the level "speaker" and their appointments will fall into different categories with much less preferences.

The "eternal students"

Since today the Ministry also started work on the identification of the number of "eternal students" and the first data about this are shocking - according to statistics in universities and colleges are enrolled a total of about 596,000 students, of which about 300,000 are late to graduate or have completely ditched studying. Deputy Education Minister Yannis Panaretos asked all universities and colleges to submit data for the past ten years and for the average duration of receipt of a diploma. One of the reasons why these data should be sent in the ministry by 24th November, is that from now on the funding of universities will depend on the number of accepted and graduating students. This is expected to rise new tensions in the universities which have already begun to strike. For two days with closed doors are the Polytechnic University in Athens, Thessaloniki Aristotle University and the University of Ioannina.

Interestingly, most students who abandon their studies are from the legal, economic and Mathematics departments, in which are normally enrolled excellent students. For example in the Law School at Athens 7 of 10 students are in the "eternal student" column. At the same time, only one in ten is able to graduate having in mind that out of total of 369,219 students there are 36 469 graduates, which places Greece in the last position among the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.


Tags: News Universities Higher Education strikes reforms eternal students
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