There will be almost 7,000 fewer university places for high-school graduates this summer compared to 2012.

The Education Ministry said on Tuesday that a total of 69,288 places will be available in the new academic year, which is 8.9 percent fewer than last year when 76,094 places at universities and technical colleges were up for grabs.

The reduction comes after the implementation of the Athena plan for tertiary education, which is leading to university departments being scrapped or merged.

The biggest reduction in university places were at social sciences departments, where there will be 43.31 percent fewer spots.