ATHENS – Over vehement protests from college students who don’t want time limits on graduating, Greece’s New Democracy government will give them up to nine years to 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, eight years for those on a five-year course and nine years for a six-year course, under a bill in Parliament.
It was introduced in January by Education Minister Niki Kerameus to empty universities of so-called “eternal students” who take years on end to complete their degrees, some staying for life.
“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.
“Itt 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 added.
Some 282,588 students, out of a total 668,734 – more than 42 percent – didn’t graduate on time in the last academic year, which has been going on for decades and as the Constitution bars private university degrees from being accepted, giving state schools a monopoly.
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.