Greece Trying Again to Get Rid of Deadbeat University Students

ATHENS – Almost 18 months after making a vow to get rid of so-called “Eternal Students” in univerisities who don’t have to go to class, take tests or graduate, Greece’s New Democracy government is taking another shot at it.

The new alleged attempt to boot the lifelong students is a measure that will expel them if they exceed the set period of time necessary to complete their degree by two or three years, depending on the respective governing board, according to a law passed by the Education Ministry, said Kathimerini.

Some 40 percent of students enrolled in Greek colleges never graduate, after struggling to get in, and they have been allowed by every government and party in power to stay in school.

According to the new law, expulsions will begin in 2025, the second time a measure was passed attempting to do it, after the first attempt failed when university leaders wouldn’t go along with it and the Education Ministry backtracked.

The long-festering problem of “eternal students” at Greek universities, allowed to stay until they reach retirement age if they want, has put the country in an unenviable position in the European Union – last.

Greece already is the only EU country to bar private universities and graduates of world-renowned schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford can’t be hired for public positions if they don’t have a Greek university degree.

The New Democracy government made some reforms including offering English language courses in the classics at the University of Athens but still hasn’t acted to abolish Article 16 of the Constitution prohibiting private colleges.

In February, 2021, the New Democracy government measure would give the Eternal Students nine years to finish four years worth of studies and get a degree or get out.

The maximum time students will have to complete their university degrees is six years for those on a four-year course, was eight years for those on a five-year course and nine years for a six-year course, under the bill.

It was introduced in January by Education Minister Niki Kerameus to empty  universities of the students who take years on end to complete their degrees, some staying for life before she relented.

“The bill that we are introducing is a bill of common sense,” Kerameus told a committee that will review it, days after students took to the streets to protest education reforms.

“It is not normal to be a student for 20 or 30 years. It is common sense that there must be a beginning, a middle and an end to every educational process, in every educational context,” she also added.

In 2014, then-Education Minister Andreas Loverdos tried to stop the problem of eternal students but failed, as had so many before him, at that time saying that those in universities longer than 11 years should be expelled, but he didn’t do it.

He told Kathimerini then some students had been in colleges since the 1950’s, registered as students while the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development said 80 percent didn’t graduate on time.


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