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Society

Greece’s Troubled Universities Churn Out Entrepreneurs: Some Go Abroad

ATHENS – Greece’s besieged universities – often occupied by students, with incidents of violence and low world rankings – nevertheless have produced continued bumper crops of graduates opening businesses, although some go abroad to create companies.

More than 52 percent – 180 of  346 young, successful, innovators in Greece and those who left earned undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from at least one public university in the country, according to Savy.gr, a professional services comparison company.

That was led by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) with 24 percent of them, the school often brought to a standstill by protesters, including those who are opposed to plans to let private universities operate.

The study found that 13 percent of those who have studied at public Greek universities attended two different institutions, while 2 percent have studied at three different Greek universities, moving between them.

Savy.gr analyzed data from Fortune Greece and specifically the 40 under 40 lists from 2013-2022, which included parts of the 2010-18 economic and austerity crisis that saw thousands of the best and brightest flee to other countries.

Greece’s clientelist system, which rewards political loyalty over merit and promoting friends, had a reputation for holding down independent thinkers and young entrepreneurs who have found a way to flourish despite that.

Behind NTUA in success was the Athens University of Economics and Business at 19 percent despite previously having to deal with drug dealers outside the campus as well as violence.

Then came the University of Athens at 13 percent, University of Piraeus 12 percent, and University of Patras and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with 11 percent

Less successful were the universities of Macedonia with 5 percent, West Attica and Thessaly with 3 percent, while the other universities had up to 2 percent.

The data also showed that 48 percent (166) of these business founders have studied at private colleges and universities abroad, the New Democracy government now moving to let foreign schools set up in Greece to keep students here and attract foreigners.

NTUA rector Ioannis Hatzigeorgiou, said that “the contribution of the NTUA to society and the economy with graduates who can create new innovative business ventures in Greece, exploit the research and knowledge produced at the institution, but also showcase their advantages in practice by creating new jobs, ultimately highlights the pivotal and multi-level role of a public university like the NTUA in the country.”

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