Funding by numbers provokes Greek university fury

August 2, 1996

Greek university chiefs have reacted angrily to education secretary George Papandreou's suggestion that future funding of universities should be based on student numbers and that teaching staff be assessed for promotion every five years by foreign professors.

Mr Papandreou, who intends to submit draft legislation in the Greek parliament, revealed his proposals quite unexpectedly at a meeting with prime minister Kostas Simitis and the heads called to discuss the accumulation of problems in higher education.

The education ministry, which funds universities from the national budget, almost inevitably makes drastic cuts when institutions submit their budgets and pressurises them to take whatever is allocated.

Bureaucracy often delays funding, to such an extent that George Grammatikakis, chancellor of Crete University, recently appeared in court twice over non-payment of VAT when the payment had actually been delayed by the Treasury.

Heads reacted even more angrily to the proposal that university teachers should be assessed by foreign academics. Lecturers, assistant and deputy professors are assessed for promotion every three years by their own peers, in the college, department or university.

Peter Yemptos, chancellor of Athens University, said: "The assessment of Greek teachers by foreigners is unacceptable even as an idea because it diminishes the value of Greek ,which are of very high quality and recognised internationally."

Nikos Markanas, chancellor of the Technological University, declared: "Although the proposal might have been made in good faith and in order to ensure objectivity, nevertheless it suggests servility."

Emilios Metaxopoulous, chancellor of Pandion University, suggested that Greek prime ministers (and perhaps education ministers) be assessed by a committee of three European prime ministers and in the case of a negative report the country should have its subsidies reduced.

Later this month the chancellors of all Greek universities will meet on Samothraki to discuss alternative proposals.

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