ATHENS – After being heckled by students who haven’t attended classes for years and are going to be expelled, new University of Athens Rector Theodoros Fortsakis said it was a sign the higher education system has to be overhauled completely.
In a written statement after the event, Fortsakis criticized the protesters as well as the legacy of the outgoing rector, Theodosios Pelegrinis, taking a shot at him for the universities dismal standing in world rankings.
“Public universities have unfortunately collapsed,” Fortsakis said, vowing to elevate them to “the status they deserve.”
The ceremony for the handover was disrupted by about 50 rowdy protesters angry that they are going to be disenrolled from universities they haven’t attended in years, or in some cases, decades, leading them to be called “eternal students” who never graduate or go go class.
Recent estimates say about 152,000 of them will be taken off the registers. Unlike in universities in the United States, England, and many other countries, Greek college students don’t have to go to class, don’t have to take exams, can fail or even disrupt classes and nothing happens to them and 90 percent of them never get a diploma.
While that was going on, education officials said that 72,763 high school students passed entrance exams – some entering college with failing grades – but that new rules allowing them to pick where they want to go to school could lead to the shutdown of smaller, regional universities they are going to abandon.
Education authorities said they expect about 20,000 freshmen will ask for transfers from the institutions to which they have been accepted and go to larger schools in urban areas.
The lack of interest in a number of university and TEI technical departments meant that the pass grade to qualify for spots there fell to below 50 percent.
That was the case for 121 of a total of 450 departments at tertiary institutions and suggests the government may soon have to examine whether some of these need to be merged or scrapped.