Education Reform Sparks Protests in Greece: Public vs. Private Universities


Thousands of Greek students took to the streets in Athens and other cities on Thursday, voicing their vehement opposition to proposed education reforms that would allow private universities for the first time. The conservative government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, plans to submit a bill to establish these institutions as branches of foreign universities this month.

Opponents, including student Christina Iliopoulou, fear the move will devalue public university degrees and create a two-tier system where only the wealthy can afford a quality education. Iliopoulou stated, "It will tear apart the public university as we knew it and destroy our chances of finding jobs after graduation."

The protests, largely peaceful with one brief clash involving tear gas, highlight the potential societal impact of this reform. Greece's public universities have traditionally been free and government-funded, a source of pride for many. Implementing this change amid past education reforms met with fierce resistance signifies the weight of the issue.

The government, wielding a parliamentary majority, defends the reform as a way to:

  • Boost the economy: By attracting some of the 40,000 Greek students currently studying abroad and qualified academics.
  • Reverse brain drain: Stemming the tide of talent lost during the 2010-2018 debt crisis.
  • Enhance education quality: Bringing stricter academic standards and reducing bureaucracy in public universities.

Supporters argue that public universities will benefit from a competitive environment, ultimately driving both public and private institutions to excel. However, the spectre of increased costs and limited access for lower-income students remains a central concern for protesters.

This reform proposal has ignited a heated debate in Greece, pitting concerns about access and equality against aspirations for economic growth and educational improvement. As the government prepares to submit the bill, the eyes of the nation are on how this significant education reform unfolds.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024