Eurocrisis heals Greek HE

Nieuws | de redactie
7 februari 2012 | 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 ofnotable changes in Greek society… The new Framework Act for highereducation was the first, in the history of modern Greece, to gainsupport from the two major political parties,” Vangelis Tsiligiris, cross-border expert and GreekCollege Principal, states in his recently published research paper.

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

Modernizing Greek’s higher education sector

In 2010, the Greek government mandated an InternationalCommittee to review its HE sector. In the report it said that “Greece’s system of HigherEducation suffers from a crisis of values as well as out-datedpolicies and organizational structures.”

The new Framework Act that passed last year tackles some ofthese issues, especially by depoliticizing governance structures atuniversities. Even though this law faced significant opposition by rectors, it was much of amilestone in Greece being the first proposal supported by bothmajor political parties, the socialists of PASOK and theconservatives of New Democracy (ND).

Political opportunism substituted by Eurocrisisurgency

According to Tsiligiris, political opportunism had been in theway of reforms in the past. ND opposed any law proposed by PASOKand vice versa. With the Eurocrisis this situation changed. “Foryears, the raw model in the Greek society has been someone who hasmanaged to secure a job in the public sector using the socialnetworks of friends, relatives and politicians, and much less onhis/her own merits.

“This raw model had been based on a ‘less (effort) for more(returns)’ philosophy, regarding the contribution one should haveto society and the economy. This devaluation of the prior distortedsocial model has acted as a catalyst for the acceleration oflong-anticipated reforms. A prime example was the recent reforms inGreek higher education,” states Tsiligiris.

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