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  • Eurocrisis heals Greek HE

    - High graduate unemployment, low reputation of universities - Greek higher education faces significant challenges. Still, Greece experiences a “historical moment” now that both major parties agreed to tackle major HE reforms according to cross-border expert Vangelis Tsiligiris.

    "The debt crisis has acted as a catalyst for the acceleration of notable changes in Greek society… The new Framework Act for higher education was the first, in the history of modern Greece, to gain support from the two major political parties," Vangelis Tsiligiris, cross-border expert and Greek College Principal, states in his recently published research paper.

    High graduate unemployment, low returns to education and general low reputation of universities -Tsiligiris analyzes that Greek's higher education system is confronted with significant challenges. Until now, Greece has been slow to implement reforms agreed upon in the context of the Bologna process and only in 2004 it created an agency to check for quality and accountability at universities.

    Modernizing Greek's higher education sector

    In 2010, the Greek government mandated an International Committee to review its HE sector. In the report it said that "Greece's system of Higher Education suffers from a crisis of values as well as out-dated policies and organizational structures."

    The new Framework Act that passed last year tackles some of these issues, especially by depoliticizing governance structures at universities. Even though this law faced significant opposition by rectors, it was much of a milestone in Greece being the first proposal supported by both major political parties, the socialists of PASOK and the conservatives of New Democracy (ND).

    Political opportunism substituted by Eurocrisis urgency

    According to Tsiligiris, political opportunism had been in the way of reforms in the past. ND opposed any law proposed by PASOK and vice versa. With the Eurocrisis this situation changed. "For years, the raw model in the Greek society has been someone who has managed to secure a job in the public sector using the social networks of friends, relatives and politicians, and much less on his/her own merits.

    "This raw model had been based on a 'less (effort) for more (returns)' philosophy, regarding the contribution one should have to society and the economy. This devaluation of the prior distorted social model has acted as a catalyst for the acceleration of long-anticipated reforms. A prime example was the recent reforms in Greek higher education," states Tsiligiris.