Students at the Greek technological and vocational institutes are in danger of losing a semester but even that is not enough to end a dispute over their demand for equality with the universities.
Institute students and teachers have held sit-ins and blocked bridges and motorways in protest but have only succeeded in alienating the public. If they carry out their threat to boycott the six-monthly examinations due this month, their semester will be lost.
The institutes were created in the 1980s to give opportunities to those students who could not be absorbed by universities and also to provide training for various applied professions.
Both universities and state have reacted sharply to the demand. Education secretary George Papandreou has failed to produce an acceptable formula. The most recent proposals, were condemned by all sides. They allowed a limited equality with the universities, access to applied research, wider autonomy, and opportunities for their graduates to postgraduate studies.