New Democracy Wants to End University Students for Life Tolerance

ATHENS – A long-standing practice under different governments of letting some then-young students who enter Greek universities stay for life without being required to go to class or graduate could be ending.

Under New Democracy, the Education Ministry said it will move to end the tolerance to let students extend their studies as long as they want, a minority doing so in some cases until retirement age, leading them to be called “eternal students.”

Kathimerini said a reform to provide incentives for students to attend classes after being admitted at high school age will go to the public for consultation, certain to draw fire from the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which critics said dumbed down education.

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.

New Democracy’s reform would require students to graduate a four-year course in six years while those in six year programs would be given nine years, taking them deep into their 20’s by the time they get a degree instead of never as now.

The World University Rankings in 2017 said the number of eternal students at that time had doubled while SYRIZA was in power, the government not pushing them to study or get a degree.

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 at the time that 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 of students didn't graduate on time.


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