UAthens English Language Classics Courses Luring Foreign Students

Neo-Classical Architecture of the University of Athens Photo Archive: (Eurokinissi/Thanasis Kalliaras)

ATHENS – The New Democracy’s bid to attract foreign students for classes in English at the University of Athens is showing signs of working, with registrations reportedly already underway and interest growing.

The first English-language undergraduate course offered by a Greek state university, it’s a four-year Classics program and school officials told Kathimerini foreign students are eager to enroll.

They said the greatest interest in the course – a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, History and Literature of Ancient Greece – is expected to come from students in neighboring countries and from countries with significant Greek populations, which include the United States and Australia.

Education Minister Niki Kerameus, a graduate of Harvard Law, in January explored the prospects for cooperation between Greek and American universities during a visit to the United States.

The government said it’s trying to raise educational standards it said were dumbed down by former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA who had an education chief who said that excellence in education wasn’t a virtue.

But New Democracy still hasn’t moved to abolish Article 16 of the Constitution which forbids private universities, Greece being the only country in the European Union which does that.

Delegations from the US Embassy and the Fulbright Foundation earlier came to hear how the program, aimed at students outside the European Union, will operate, the paper said as the courses were being outlined.

The four-year course curricula was  prepared by the Athens Philosophy School and the International Hellenic University. Combining “the strengths of the three disciplines in a single, innovative degree,” it will be taught by senior researchers and specialist scholars.

Courses will start Sept. 1, 2020, inviting students to “study Classical Greece in Athens.” Students will have the opportunity to visit some of the archaeological sites they cover in the curriculum in places such as Crete, Santorini, Delos, Olympia, Delphi, and Vergina. They will also be encouraged to participate in the Departmental Archaeological Excavation in Marathon, which takes place in April and May the following year.

Students who want to learn Modern Greek as a foreign language will have access to the university’s Modern Greek Language Teaching Center, which also offers a range of options for speaking practice and courses in Ancient Greek.

The US Embassy’s cultural attache, Jennifer Schueler, said it would further strengthen already strong ties between the countries.

Athens University Vice Rector Dimitrios Karadimas said there will be collaborations with American colleges who are shut out of Greece, including faculty exchanges that could bring American scholars to teach.

The Fulbright Foundation’s Executive Director, Artemis Zenetou, suggested US professors be invited to teach, the paper said. The noted foundation awarded scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year, allowing teachers, PhD candidates and postgraduate students to travel to the United States and American professors to collaborate in research with their counterparts at Athens University.

The application deadline is March 31, 2020. Tuition fees are 6,000 euros ($6609.30) annually, a smidgeon of the cost at private universities in the United States, less than half that for in-state students at the University of Massachusetts, while the program would welcome those from other countries as well, with those from the Diaspora likely candidates given their heritage.

Students outside the EU’s Schengen Zone, which allows free travel between 26 countries, were advised to apply early to avoid any delays in processing visa although those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland don’t need visas to study in Greece.

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