bill papastergiaids Domna Mihailidou

Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis undertook numerous meetings with various ministers while on a working holiday in Greece. One of those meetings involved discussions with Domna Michailidou, Deputy Minister of Education, and Giorgos Kotsiras, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A number of matters were discussed including facilitating the joint recognition by both Greece and Australia of degrees obtained in either country and the exchange of university students whereby a semester enrolment in a Greek University is counted towards attainment of a degree in Australia and vice versa.

Bill Papastergiadis noted that “the facilitation of getting more Greek-Australian students to visit and spend time in Greece, will naturally lead to these students evolving into future ambassadors. Papastergiadis highlighted that 'Education is something that Australia does well, in particular the State of Victoria which attracts international students who mainly attend public universities. This is an area Greece should focus on with the aim of attracting more multi-year undergraduate students, not just those doing post-graduate courses.

Furthermore, it is unlikely an Australian student will consider spending a semester in Greece unless there's some sort of reciprocal recognition. More must be done in this space as many Australian students study in so many diverse European countries but only a handful choose Greece. It's important that the necessary groundwork and bilateral arrangements are in place to facilitate this process.

These matters were further explored in a recent telephone meeting involving Dr Nick Dallas (Chair of Education at the GCM) and Bill Papastergiadis with Deputy Minister Kotsiras. Minister Kotsiras was keen to advance the issues raised above with the Deputy Education Minister as he had a forthcoming meeting planned with the Minister of Education Mr Pierrakis.

In our meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr Nick Dallas emphasised how better relations with Universities in our respective countries would enhance the experience of Australian students. Bill Papastergiadis made particular mention of the recent MOU executed by the Medical Faculties of the Universities of Melbourne, Athens and Patras which had already resulted in medical students from Australia attending the medical school of Patras. This was a program facilitated by the GCM, Professor Pirpiris with the Australian Hellenic Medical Society, and Dr Patoulis.

Dr Nick Dallas also noted that Australia would benefit from a program that involved Greek educational specialists conducting professional development workshops for Greek language teachers in Australia. The GCM in conjunction with the Modern Greek Teachers Association could easily coordinate such an initiative by making facilities available and encouraging all school providers to participate.

It was agreed that another meeting would be arranged in a month or so to develop this framework of collaboration.

Finally, it should be noted that following these meetings, Mr Papastergiadis has already initiated relevant discussions with the University of Melbourne.

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