Greek university chancellors have agreed to close their universities for a day in protest at the government's higher education policies.
The move follows a row with the education ministry over the country's failure to absorb funds allocated from the European Union's second community support Framework for Higher Education Programme.
The chancellors accused the ministry of political ineptitude and constant retreat from agreed policy as a result of which large sums of money vital for the improvement of higher education are in danger of being lost. In return, the ministry, said the universities had failed to propose appropriate programmes.
The chancellors criticised the ministry's continuing inactivity which they claim is preventing the use of funds from the programme.
Nikos Markalos, chancellor of the Technological University, said that from a total of 173 billion drachmas (Pounds 490 million) put aside for higher education programmes worth only 5.5 billion drachmas had been taken up.
George Tsamasfiros, vice chancellor of the Technological University, accused the government of dragging its feet and refusing to take decisions. He pointed out that two years had already been wasted, no advisor had yet been appointed and the joint committee formed to do the job in May 1995 had been disbanded.
The chancellors claimed that "the promises given by former prime minister Andreas Papandreou have not been kept while the ability of the universities to manage the current deepening crisis in higher education has been diminished."
They protested vigorously at the blatant interference by the ministry in the autonomy of their institutions and called for the removal of secretary- general Glannis Panaretos, whom they consider responsible.
They also called on the government to increase its support for the regional universities; provide more incentives to attract highly qualified scientists to the regions; and take all necessary measures to increase the absorption rate of the European funds for higher Education.