Chief tries to win over protesters

July 20, 2001

The chancellor and vice-chancellor of the Athens Technological University, who resigned last month in protest at the upgrading of the country's technological institutes to university status, have been re-elected unopposed and will continue in office for a further two years.

Their re-election took place while the university was under occupation by students who are also opposed to the upgrading of the technological institutes.

The occupation is preventing annual examinations that should have started this month.

A conference of university chancellors has also been postponed as a result of student sit-ins.

The presidium of the conference accused education secretary Petros Efthynmiou of ignoring the university.

It repeated its demand for a reconsideration of the planned upgrades and warned that students would intensify their opposition at the start of the new academic year.

Student leaders expressed opposition to the Bologna agreement.

They said that it "assesses academic institutions according to the demands of the market, their level of productivity... and not according to academic excellence".

In an effort to defuse the situation and regain the initiative, Mr Efthynmiou offered to double the funds allocated to universities for teaching positions. He also offered an additional €5.9 million (£3.6 million) for their operating costs.

The chancellors agreed to meet the education secretary provided the agenda was kept strictly to finance.

In private discussions they told him that the upgrading of the technical institutions had brought the universities close to crisis.

The two sides agreed to examine the possibility of convening the postponed chancellors' conference at the end of July.

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