Displaced medics sue to stay in country

June 18, 1999

More than 1,500 Greek students who were forced to abandon their studies at Yugoslav universities at the start of Nato's bombing campaign are threatening legal action against the Greek education ministry unless they are allowed to continue their studies at home.

Education secretary Gerasimos Arsenis told MPs that he had no statutory authority to allow the students to transfer to Greek universities, but he has asked universities to consider their cases sympathetically.

The prospects were limited, however, because arrangements for the 1999-2000 academic year had been completed, he said.

The students say they cannot return to Yugoslavia even after peace is established because the country's education infrastructure has been destroyed.

They have little chance of successfully transferring to a university at home for constitutional and administrative reasons.

Greek students enter university in strict grade order after taking the Panhellenic examinations. The students from Yugoslavia are deemed to have failed these exams, which prevents them from being accepted.

It is difficult to see how they could be absorbed. Some 860 were studying medicine and 300 others reading dentistry in Yugo-slavia. The Athens medical school can take only 260 students at most.

Mr Arsenis told student delegations that university authorities would give him a final decision soon. In the meantime, he intended to consider several possible solutions to a human problem that had occurred as a result of the conflict in a neighbouring country.

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