University Reform in Greece: 1982 and After
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University Reform in Greece: 1982 and After1 Glen H. Grant A new law on the operation of the Higher Education Institutions of the country has been passed. This law is the most radical there is, compared to any law in any other country. The students (that is, university students), being equal to their teachers , the professors, will chart the course of education in our country at the higher education level. Prime Minister A. G. Papandreou (to a press conference of foreign journalists; October 19, 1982.) The university reform program of the government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou is set out in Law 1268/82 "... concerning the structure and functioning of the Greek university system."2 Some see this legislation as a promising framework upon which long-overdue change in the Greek universities will be based. Others contend that the law is seriously flawed, that it dismantles the university system which has served Greece well for many years, and that it brings deteriorating standards to the campuses as well as administrative chaos, disruption of teaching, and extreme politicization. During a recent period, from October 1984 to June 1985, using interviews and written sources, I was able to collect information about how the new law is being implemented and compared it to previous efforts at reform. This article describes the results of my research and gives my own conclusions about the efficacy of the legislation and its future prospects. Historical Background The present structure of Greek higher education was legislated in the early 1900s and is based on German practice at that time. It has been characterized from the outset by the so-called "chair system" of organization and authority, by the allocation and control of resources centrally from the Ministry of Education, by an administrative struc17 18 Glen H. Grant ture prescribed by the government, by central control of admissions through nationwide examinations, by the absence of systematic programs of graduate education, and by transitory academic and administrative leadership. The chair system dominated Greek higher education from the beginning. Each chairholder enjoyed full authority over the academic and administrative activities in the particular scholarly specialization . Professors decided what would be taught and upon what subject matter the students would be examined, they suggested the textbook (often their own), and they were solely responsible for selection and supervision of teaching assistants. Those individuals (holding the titles epimelitis and voithós) who provided academic and professional assistance to the chairholders (who occupied positions known as 'edra) did not have the right to teach independently, assign grades, or conduct research in their own names. Their services were often utilized by chairholders to accomplish sub-professional tasks, even for personal gain. The academic assistants generally found themselves with limited opportunity for scholarly or professional advancement, and they were highly critical of the chaired professors' closed-door proceedings. Collégial relationships among chairholders were not strong, and there did not exist collective guildlike bodies which could effectively oversee and promote the academic development of the universities. Faced with ever-increasing numbers and demand, successive governments increased university admissions rapidly, and facilities became overtaxed despite admirable efforts to construct new campuses . The chairholders found themselves overloaded by their teaching duties, even with more academic assistants. Salaries had deteriorated and many professors found it necessary to take second jobs. Morale suffered and some chairholders did not, or were not able to, keep abreast of developments in their fields, and their teaching was lackluster. Nor were they under a strong mandate to continue doing research. Overall authority in the Greek university system was exercised by a desultory interaction between the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Education and the dispersed academic oligarchy (the chairholders ). The Rectors (the chief university officers) were unable to exercise effective long-term leadership since they served only oneyear terms. Market forces were not at play within the Greek university system; private universities are not a factor. About one-fourth of the Greek students in higher education were studying abroad, and the number not returning was of concern to the nation. University Reform in Greece 19 Student participation in university governance was not formalized . The junior academic personnel had unionized and their political voice, raised in...


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