"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
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.