Nearly Some 2,000 Greek university and technical college students protested outside Parliament on March 6 after Education Minister Constantinos Aravanitopoulos submitted the government’s plan for an overhaul of the system that allows students to stay in college without graduating and to close down unnecessary departments.
The scheme, called Athena after the ancient goddess, has prompted complaints from students and local officials in parts of the country where the institutions are located, although a recent report found, for example, that colleges produce seven times more civil engineers than there are jobs and that many regional schools are operating to serve small numbers of students in other courses.
Arvanitopoulos said that the current number of university departments was not sustainable. He said that they had increased from 334 in 1993 to 534 today.
“All that was needed (for a department to be created) was the desire of an academic and the support of an MP,” said Arvanitopoulos, who added that he was open to suggestions from opposition parties about potential changes to the draft law. He argued that through the mergers of departments, deficit-cutting measures and overhaul, Greek students will enjoy better studies.
Students said they didn’t want any changes. The closing of departments means that some students might have to move to different cities to continue their studies or end up with a different diploma regarding to their initial choice. “We want our diplomas, not worthless documents,” protesters chanted, vowing to return to the streets until the bill is overturned.