Greece in harmony with EU

February 25, 2000

Greece is to relax its tight controls on the operation of private and overseas universities to try to escape heavy fines for contravening European Union law.

Its legislation governing private universities, degree parity, academic qualifications and professional rights is to be harmonised with the rest of the EU following action by the European Court of Justice.

Officials believe the reforms will save Greece from having to pay a E70,000 (Pounds 43,000) per day fine, backdated to March 1995.

The changes will be made this month by presidential decree then ratified by parliament. This will avoid having to rewrite the constitution, which states that "higher education is the exclusive responsibility of the state".

This will enable the many private-sector liberal-studies centres to style themselves as "universities" - a title they have used surreptitiously for years.

Overseas universities, many of them British, will for the first time have degrees awarded for a period of study in Greece officially recognised.

A new organisation will replace the Trans-university Degree Validation Agency to decide on the equivalence of degrees.

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