ATHENS — The government has dealt superficially with the major problems faced by universities, showing indifference and making them worse so as to degrade public higher education, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance President Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, during an online meeting with university rectors.
According to a party announcement, Tsipras said that the changes included in the education ministry's new draft legislation will "downgrade instead of upgrading public universities" and were a "provocative boost to private colleges".
He accused the government of exploiting problems existing in some universities to present all public universities as "centres of illegality and delinquency". While he admitted that such phenomena did exist in certain schools and must be dealt with, as they must not be allowed to become dens of criminals and provocateurs, he also noted that, similarly, they must not become "arenas for government propaganda and slander, repression and a police state."
Neither, he added, can universities become an area for "experimentation at the expense of public education, which opens up the way to profiteering and education for the few."
In this context, he underlined the opposition of the university rectors' council to the creation of a force of 1,000 armed police within universities and noted the detailed and specific counter-proposals put forward by the academic community.
"The bill being discussed provides for the hiring of an additional 1,000 police for universities but not teachers, not even to replace the roughly 300 teachers that retire every year," Tsipras said.
Noting that none of the measures proposed will help solve the problems faced by universities, he pointed to the fact that Greece, when compared to other European countries, had a great many more police officers but far fewer university professors relative to its population.
As for the minimum pass mark being introduced for admission to higher education, Tsipras said this was a transparent attempt to blame universities for the exclusion of more than 20,000 young people from state higher education and create customers for private colleges that have recently been allowed to award university-level degrees "even though their courses of study are of greatly inferior standard."