Panhellenic exam era ends

July 12, 1996

The selection of university students will alter radically in Greece from 1999 if draft legislation put before parliament by education secretary George Papandreou is approved.

The gradual abolition of the Panhellenic entrance examinations, which represents a shift in secondary school curriculum and more freedom for universities to select their students, are the most important proposals in the legislation.

The examinations will be abolished from 1999. Students will be selected for university on the basis of their performance in the last two years of senior high school, for which they would be awarded a National Certificate of Education.

In the penultimate year they will be examined in five compulsory subjects: Greek language and literature, maths, physics, chemistry and English. These represent 20 per cent of their grades towards a National Certificate of Education.

In the final year they will be examined in the same five compulsory subjects plus an optional three for which they will receive 80 per cent of the total required.

College and university departments will set the grades and speciality subjects they want and students can apply for courses for which they have an aptitude.

There was a lukewarm reaction to the proposals from parents, students, teachers and academics. They welcomed the abolition of the much disliked entrance examinations but criticised the failure to curb private schools which prepare students for the exams and the various liberal studies centres that call themselves "private universities".

Mr Papandreou said his measures strengthened education at the secondary level and smoothed the way to higher education for the majority of the students. Problems would only be solved when "a university education was available to everyone in the country without entrance examinations or selection, but if that happened Greek universities could not possibly cope".

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