WENR, November/December 2003: Greece
ducation in Greece is centralized and controlled by the state. Higher education is provided by university-level institutions called anotata ekpedeutika idrimata (AEI) and technical-education institutes known as anotera ekpedeutica idrimata (TEI). Greek law permits the establishment of privately owned nursery, primary and secondary schools (all of which are required to follow the national curriculum). However, the Constitution expressly forbids the establishment of private, degree-granting institutions of higher education.
Greek higher education has a binary structure composed of the university sector (22 AEIs) and the technological sector (15 TEIs). In 1997-98, 30 optional study programs were introduced to provide greater flexibility for students. These programs offer courses that can be taken individually or in combination, and are designed to better meet the needs of the changing labor market. TEIs are governed by the Laws of 1983 and 1985, which saw the introduction of new courses and the extension of the average length of programs to four years. The AEIs are governed by the Law of 1992 and subsequent amendments.
On June 28, 2000, the Greek Ministry of Education issued a statement summarizing the government’s official position on the Bologna Declaration and the resistance it is encountering from professors, students and some professional unions. To view the entire communiqué, please go HERE. Positions taken since are discussed below.
1. Easily Readable and Comparable Degrees
• Greece has not signed or ratified the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications.
• According to a June 2003 European Commission report on the state of implementation of the diploma supplement in Greece, it “has been welcomed with enthusiasm … Many HEIs [higher education institutes] will introduce it after solving various technical problems.” In August 2003, a ministry of education report entitled Implementation of the Bologna Process, states: “The diploma supplement is not yet issued by Greek higher education institutions, while the existing system of the recognition of foreign degrees … faces significant problems with regards to its complexity and its efficiency.” The same report mentions that the Greek government is considering a new legislative framework, which would greatly simplify the procedures for the recognition of degrees and officially mandate the issuance of the diploma supplement in a “standardized and integrated way in both sectors of higher education.” The ratification of the Lisbon Convention is cited as an important element of the policy.
• The Diapanepistimiako Kentro Anagnorisis Titlon Spoudon Allodapis (Inter-University Center for the Recognition of Foreign Degrees) verifies the validity and equivalence of foreign credentials.
• The Greek government recognizes there may be problems associated with the equivalence between the Greek first-cycle degrees and those obtained after three years of study in other European countries, and states in its latest Bologna report: “There will inevitably appear problems of recognition, which the Greek government will have to handle in a satisfactory way, which has to be consistent with the Bologna approach.”
2. Degree Structure
• Higher education in Greece is provided by university (AEIs) and non-university higher institutions (TEIs).
Stage I: Programs offered by technical educational institutes (T.E.I.) leading to a professionally-oriented first degree (Ptychio) last three-and-one-half to four years. All programs require one semester of practical training and a thesis.
T.E.I.s do not offer post-graduate programs.
Stages I and II: The first higher-education degree in Greece is the Ptychio, which is awarded after four to five years (six in the case of medicine) at the university level, and 3½ to four years at TEIs in such professional disciplines as business, technology and allied health.
• Universities also offer post-graduate programs, requiring one-to-two years of study, leading to certificates and diplomas (diploma metaptychiakon spoudon) in a limited number of fields. Ptychio-holders are admitted by examination.
Stage III: The Didaktoriko (doctorate) normally takes three years, and is a prerequisite for teaching at the university level.
• Although the system consists of two main tiers, the vast majority (approximately 75 percent) of students leave the system with first-level qualifications and do not continue their studies further. There is general opposition from the universities to shortening the first-tier qualification to three years.
• Second-cycle programs are awarded only by the university sector. However, there is a provision in a recent law amendment that allows TEIs to work at a higher level. The new law allows TEIs, after successfully passing a quality-assessment procedure, to cooperate with universities in the realization of master’s study by contributing staff, facilities or equipment. However, the master’s degree is still awarded by the university in all cases.
• A recent proposal by the government to introduce a second type of master’s degree, called “diploma of advanced studies,” was withdrawn after universities and students protested. The degree offered a broader profile than the existing master’s degree.
• First-cycle degrees provide access to the second cycle irrespective of the sector (university or technological). Holding a second-tier degree is not a prerequisite for doctoral studies, which can be accessed directly by graduates of the first cycle.
• According to the latest government report on implementing the proposals of the Bologna Declaration, the consensus in Greece on the existing degree structure from virtually all parties involved is “the first-cycle degrees should continue to be obtained in Greece after at least four years of studies, and any ideas for first-cycle degrees obtained after three years of studies are totally rejected.” Furthermore, “the requisite restructuring of the curricula will result in the restriction of the academically oriented courses and to the preservation of those courses which have a more or less direct relevance to employment needs … leading to the ‘professionalisation’ and ‘de-academisation’ of the first-cycle studies.”
• The government sees the current degree structure as consistent with the Bologna structure, and therefore states that “it is not going to change it.”
• A related issue is the current debate on the reform of the existing legislative framework for postgraduate studies in Greece. Reformists point to a need for the reorganization and restructuring of master’s programs and to the introduction of structured advanced courses at the doctoral level, thus introducing the concept of doctoral studies. The debate has been ongoing at universities for the last three years, but the government has not yet introduced a related bill before parliament.
3. Credit Transfer
• Greece has had a system of credits in both sectors since 1982. It is an accumulation system in which credits are directly proportionate to the weekly hours of instruction, unlike ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) , which allots credits on a student-workload basis. Recently, some institutions restructured their study programs to take into consideration student workload, allocating 240 credits for a four-year degree, in compliance with the ECTS model.
• Credit transfer can take place with the permission of the department in which the student applies for transfer. Most departments provide academic recognition and intend to apply ECTS rules by allocating credits based on workload. The Rectors Conference supports the implementation of ECTS, and many TEIs already apply ECTS rules.
• ECTS has been applied by Greek institutions of higher education as a transfer system with regard to the European mobility programs (ERASMUS, SOCRATES), but in this case there are no rules in place and credit decisions are left up to the discretion of individual institutions.
• In the technological sector, an accumulation system of credits based on the workload approach is in use, making it more compatible with the ECTS model.
• The ECTS grading scale is not in use in Greece. Although there is no official equivalency between the Greek grading scale and ECTS, a number of departments provide grade equivalencies for mobility purposes. Two examples:
– grade 10 corresponds to A
– grade 8-9 corresponds to B
– grade 7 corresponds to C
– grade 6 corresponds to D
– grade 5 corresponds to E
* Provided by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Medical School.
10 to 8.5 – Excellent
A – Excellent
8.4 to 7 – Very Good
B – Very good
6.9 to 6 – Good
C – Good
5.9 to 5.1 – Satisfactory
D – Satisfactory
5 – Lowest Passing Grade
E – Bare pass
4.9 to 4 – Insufficient
FX – Fail
3.9 to 0 – Failure
F – Fail
• According to the latest Bologna progress report, “The Greek government intends to introduce an efficient policy aiming at further improvement of the related mobility figures, by exploring ways of increasing the available funding and by introducing the necessary legislative provisions and taking the appropriate measures in order to help overcome the obstacles to mobility for incoming and outgoing students and staff.”
• Greek universities participate in the European exchange programs ERASMUS, LINGUA and TEMPUS.
• In the academic year 2001-02, there were 3,387 student exchanges (1,974 outgoing and 1,413 incoming) through the ERASMUS program.
5. Quality Assurance
• Greece is one of the few European countries without national systematic evaluation procedures in higher education. A bill was introduced this summer in Parliament calling for the establishment of the National Council for Quality Assurance and Assessment (ESDAP) in higher education. The council would be independent of both the government and the higher education institutions and would cover both sectors.
• According to the government’s draft law, the new “independent authority” would be responsible for the “planning, coordination and oversight of all quality-control procedures in higher education.” A March 2003 article from the Athens Times suggests that critical reactions to the bill from the academic community have led to a watered-down version of the original legislation. The new version relegates the assessment side of ESDAP reports to the status of “advisory” documents, providing no incentives for quality improvement and no punitive consequences for “persistent laggards.” In a statement to the academic community, Minister of Education Petors Efthymiou assured, “Our proposal should be construed as neither a means of ‘grading’ the performance of AEIs and TEIs, nor any kind of ranking in levels of success or failure. It should not be linked to the methods relating to coursework or title accreditation any more than it should envisage the handing-out of penalties or rewards to the evaluated institutions or faculties.”
• The latest government-sponsored Bologna progress report reiterates that the role of the council would be that of an advisory body to the government so that it can take the necessary actions and polices. Furthermore, the report states, the council would aim “at improving transparency, comparability and accountability of the Greek higher education system. Therefore, the Greek system of quality assurance and assessment does not contain accreditation characteristics, nor does it aim at ranking or grading the Greek higher education institutions. At the same time, it does not have either any penal or reward characteristics.”
• The same report goes on to state that the system of quality assurance would apply the main methods of quality assurance used in most European countries, except accreditation: institutional evaluation, program evaluation, subject evaluation and audit.
6. Promotion of European Dimensions in Higher Education
• The Greek government sees the development of joint-degree programs between Greek institutions and other European institutions as one of the most important factors toward the development of the European Higher Education Area. Since the Prague meeting of education ministers in 2001, the Greek government has encouraged a number of initiatives:
•The establishment of Greek-French interuniversity cooperation resulting in the establishment of three joint master’s programs, which began this fall.
• Discussions are underway between the Greek and German rectors conferences to promote cooperation between universities of the two countries.
•A bill was introduced to Parliament this summer that would provide the necessary legislative provisions for the establishment and operation of joint master’s programs. The same bill would provide for the co-supervision of doctorates by academics from both Greek and foreign universities.
• Greece recognizes that the establishment of joint degrees is more problematic at the bachelor’s level than at the master’s level. Thus, it is pursuing policies at the postgraduate level in the hope that things will as a result progress at the level of first-tier studies.
— Nick Clark
• Survey on Master Degrees and Joint Degrees in Europe, Christian Tauch and Andrejs Rauhvargers, September 2002
• The State of Implementation of ECTS in Europe, European University Association, October 2002
• Diploma Supplement – State of Implementation, European Commission, June 2003
• Lisbon Convention Status Reports, Council of Europe, Aug. 29, 2003
• The Information Network on Education in Europe – Eurydice, European Union, 2001/2002
• Erasmus Mobility by Country 2001/2002 – ECTS Workshop, Feb. 20-21, 2003, UK Socrates Erasmus Council
• “University Evaluation Taken Lightly,” Athens News, March 2003
• Greece: National Report, Implementation of the Bologna Process, Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, Aug.4, 2003