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UK, Greek Universities Will Partner Up, Offer Students Joint Degrees

ATHENS – While no Greek government has moved to change Article 16 of the Constitution, which prohibits setting up private universities, Greek colleges will team with British counterparts for joint degree programs.

That scheme is aimed at luring local and third-country students after the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union drove up tuition fees in Britain.

The program was talked about during a  conference of the UK-Greece Strategic Partnership in Education heard, said Kathimerini, explaining that courses carried out between universities in the two countries will be certified by both.

That could give Greek students taking courses at universities not part of the country’s public university system a degree that would be recognizable for work in the public sector as even graduates of Ivy League schools and other high-level foreign schools can’t otherwise be employed.

Under the scheme, the majority will be postgraduate programs, aimed not just at Greek and other students from the Balkans and the Mediterranean, but also as far as China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“In practical terms, the students – Greek and international – will receive a degree that is issued jointly by the Greek and British universities involved in the partnership. This constitutes a significant competitive advantage for Greek universities, as they will be able to issue degrees with a ‘British stamp,’ but with much lower fees and for a much lower cost of living,” Christos Michalakelis, Assistant Professor at Athens’ Harokopeio University and president of the Study in Greece project told the newspaper.

The conference was attended by British Ambassador Matthew Lodge and the Education Ministry’s General-Secretary for higher education, Apostolos Dimitropoulos, who said Greek universities have applied for funding via the European Union-backed Partnership Agreement to pay for more than 200 English-language undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses.

He said that some of these programs will be starting in October, though most will be slated for the 2023-24 academic year, the report added.

In September, 2018, academics from local and foreign institutions signed an open letter urging Greece’s then Radical Left-SYRIZA led government to change Article 16 but were ignored, the idea dismissed.

SYRIZA officials have long denounced any idea of private universities and had an education minister who said excellence in education wasn’t a virtue and the party didn’t want virtually any standards at universities, nor entrance tests, but the New Democracy government has kept Article 16 in place.

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