Greek universities in cash crisis

October 13, 1995

Lack of money has forced two Greek premier educational establishments, the University of Crete and the Polytechnic of Crete to close their doors for an indefinite period throwing the future of thousands of students and research programmes into jeopardy.

University chancellor George Grammtikakis blames chronic neglect by successive governments to formulate a coherent education policy and the present education ministry "which knows the huge problems, promises solutions but does nothing". He said the closure was "an extremely regrettable decision but unfortunately the only one available to us".

The university has played an important role on the island initiating many individual and joint research projects which have brought about international recognition. Its closure could have serious repercussions in the educational community worldwide.

But Crete's university and polytechnic are not the only higher educational establishments facing financial problems in Greece.

A number of other regional universities are likely to close their doors in the coming weeks, while the University of Athens is facing a Drs 4 billion (Pounds 10 million) deficit and possible bankruptcy. At a recent chancellors conference it was decided unanimously to close down all the country's universities next week as a warning to the government that the current situation cannot continue.

Athens chancellor Petros Yemptos warned that the university is sinking under its financial burden. "The ministry is not only preventing the employment of lectures and research assistants essential for the university's teaching programmes but also necessary repairs to buildings and the provision of vital goods and services including books and even writing materials.

Education secretary George Papandreous has offered Drs1 billion (Pounds 2.6 million) but Mr Yemptos rejected it outright as totally inadequate to solve the institution's financial crisis and prevent closure.

The registration of students is further disrupted by the industrial action of university administrative staff and special educational staff (teachers or foreign languages and specialist subjects) who are not only poorly paid but also excluded from promotion and other benefits.

The striking staff are demanding the special 35 per cent supplement, promised to lecturers more than a year ago but not paid yet, an integrated salary structure with regular annual rise reviews and the establishment of a promotion procedure.

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