ATHENS – With the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA dead set against allowing recognition of private university degrees for public service positions, a number of Greek academics have called on the government to open the door for the schools, with some American colleges showing interest in opening branches.
SYRIZA, which favors no standards in education and for college students not to be pressed to complete school or face testing, is opposed to private universities saying Greek students should instead have no choice but state schools that are among the world’s worst.
Students with degrees from private schools, including American Ivy League schools and top British universities, won’t have those accepted if they want to work in the public sector as successive governments, including previous rulers New Democracy and the former PASOK Socialists also didn’t move to recognize the private colleges.
In an open letter to SYRIZA and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the professors said they want the government to amend Article 16 of the Constitution that prohibits establishment of the private universities, making the country unique with the ban.
“Greece is unique in this: It is the only country in Europe, if not the entire world, where the average lawmaker does not have the freedom to regulate the status of universities in accordance with the educational, social and cultural needs of the time, as well as the priorities of the majority of the time. On the contrary, they are strictly limited by the constitution,” the academics said in the letter published in Sunday’s Kathimerini.
They said bureaucratic rules are stifling innovation and reform in a call that came after SYRIZA scrapped Diaspora educational consultants.
“Having served in tertiary education for decades in Greece as well as abroad, we are in the position to have very good knowledge of the pros and cons of state and private universities,” they say. “We agree on some things while we disagree on others.
However, we are united in the conviction that regardless of what model is chosen, lawmakers must be able to adapt it to the conditions of the time… This is, in other words, a question of democracy,” they wrote. The group includes Nobel Prize winner for economics Christopher Pissarides of the London School of Economics, who is from Cyprus.