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Higher Education

Greece has adopted the international model for higher education suggested by UNESCO, which calls for two main types of institutions for tertiary education—Universities and non-university institutions. In 2001, there were 18 universities in Greece; eight are in the Athens-Piraeus metropolitan area. There are 12 Technological Educational Institutions, two in the Athens-Piraeus area. And there are 61 Higher Professional Schools (the non-university type), 36 in the Athens-Piraeus area (OECD 1997).

Greece's first universities were the National Capodistrian University of Athens (1837), The National Technical University of Athens (Polytechneion) (1836), and The Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (1925). Between 1960 and 1980 new regional universities were established throughout Greece to meet the increased demand for higher education and contemporary fields, such as computer technology and environmental studies. The new universities are in Ioannina, Patra, Thrace, Crete, Corfu, and the Aegean. Even with the new universities, there are not sufficient places for every student who wishes to attend. As a consequence many Greek students go to other European countries or to the United States for study. There are no private universities in Greece.

Under the 1992 law, undergraduate studies leading to a first degree last four years (eight semesters) for the majority of disciplines: five years (ten semesters) for agriculture, engineering, and dentistry, and six years (12 semesters) for medical schools. The various departments grant the degrees (ptychia).

Non-university studies (TEIs) last three years in general. Some majors call for additional six-month on-thejob training for a degree. All institutions of higher learning are open five days a week.

Greek universities award doctoral degrees. Earning a doctorate requires submitting an original thesis to a committee of academic experts. The post-graduate programs are in the process of being organized.

A rector and two vice-rectors who are elected for three years by the university general assembly administer each university. The dean, who is elected for three years by the faculty, administers each faculty consisting of relevant departments. The head, who is elected for two years, administers each department. Undergraduates have equal representation in electoral bodies for selecting administrative heads of the universities.

The teaching staff has four levels: lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Possession of a doctorate is a prerequisite for all levels.

Women are equally represented in higher education as a whole, though the enrollment of women varies markedly by school or field. In 1993-1994 women exceeded 71 percent in pedagogical sciences, philosophical studies, and social sciences. The fewest women were in engineering, at 23.7 percent (Protopapas 1999).

The demand for tertiary education outstrips supply in the Greek educational system. Admissions are limited by lack of classrooms, staff, and laboratories, and by "inactive" students. Secondary school graduates wishing to enter institutions of higher education must compete in the Panhellenic General Examinations administered yearly by the Central Service of the MoE.

Admissions vary from year to year and from school to school. The are determined by the MoE in consultation with the advisory boards of the National Council of Higher Education and the Council for Technological Education.

Final selection and acceptance to AEIs and TEIs is determined by: the candidate's score on the entrance exam, the AEI/TEI preference stated in the candidate's application, and the number of places available in each institution. Only one in four of the candidates is admitted.

There is a widespread practice among students preparing for tertiary education national exams to take extra courses in frontisteria (nonformal, private cramming schools). The students spend the last two years of their lyceum studies preparing for the four subjects for the exams at the expense of the rest of the subjects, as well as their school activities and the broader educational purposes of the lyceum. The MoE is thinking of modifying the exams system.

Among foreign students studying in Greek universities in 1993-94 were 2,290 from Cyprus, 3,204 compatriots (students whose parents are Greek and live abroad), and 1,263 other foreign students, for a total of 6,757 students (OECD 1997). A large number of students who fail to enter Greek higher institutions go abroad to study. In 1993-1994 there were 21,230. The majority of them prefer Italy (5,494) and Britain (5,272) (NSSG 2000). The expense for study abroad is a drain in the national budget.

Since 1988, the European Union has created programs for inter-university co-operation among member countries. The number of Greek students participating in these programs has increased steadily, from 195 students in 48 programs during the academic year 1988-1989 to 1,765 students in 540 programs during 1993-1994 (OECD 1997).

Centres of Liberal Studies (EES): About 30 private organizations called Centres of Liberal Studies (EES) provide postsecondary education; some are affiliated with foreign universities. Under a 1935 law, these organizations operate as commercial enterprises. As such, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Commerce rather than the Ministry of Education, an organizational position that causes some skepticism about the quality of the education they provide.

Applying the organizational structure of foreign universities, some EES have set up courses of two, three, and sometimes four years. In these cases the students of EES are also students of the foreign universities. This means that after two or three years of study in Greece, these students may go to the town or city where the university is located, to complete their studies and obtain a degree. Most of the co-operations are with universities in Britain and the United States, but some are with universities of France, Germany, and Switzerland. Since the MoE is not involved in this kind of education, there is no formal recognition of their degrees (OECD 1997).

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